For the third time in recent weeks, a partner in the troubled effort to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf has jumped ship.
The exodus started last summer with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.
Grant and Sierra counties withdrew in late March, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture joined them this week.
The reintroduction project, headed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has been a point of contention among ranchers and environmentalists.
Wally Murphy, with USFWS calls the recent developments "disheartening," because the wolf program is facing critical decisions this year that will affect its direction.
Some Arizona counties remain partners, along with that state's game department.