The endangered Mexican gray wolf would have a far greater territory to roam under new rules proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The first proposed expansion since the agency began introducing wolves into the wild nearly a decade ago is open to public comment.

The designated habitat for Mexican wolves under a federal recovery plan is limited to national forest straddling Arizona and New Mexico.

The proposal released this month would expand that territory to the California and Texas borders and from Interstate 40 south to Mexico.

"We need more room, more geographic area for this population to grow," said Tracy Melbihess, spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Agency officials said the current boundaries allow for little genetic variability among wolves. There are now 83 wolves living in the recovery area, most born in the wild. The public has until Sept. 23 to comment on the new plan.