Wolves no longer protected in Rockies

May 4, 2009 5:16:20 AM PDT
Wolves in parts of the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region come off the endangered species list tomorrow.

Federal officials say the population of gray wolves in those areas has recovered and is now large enough to survive on its own.

The animals were listed as endangered in 1974, after they had been largely wiped out across the lower 48 states by hunting and government-sponsored poisoning. The Fish and Wildlife Service says recovery efforts have exceeded the goals set for nine straight years, and those trends should continue.

Delisting will give state wildlife agencies full control over the animals. Idaho and Montana plan to allow the hunting of wolves again starting this fall.

Ranchers and livestock groups have pushed to strip the endangered status in hopes that hunting will keep the population in check.

About 300 wolves in Wyoming will remain on the list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected the state's plan for a "predator zone" where wolves could be shot on sight.

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