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Federal Government Plans to Lift Protections for Gray Wolves

MATTHEW BROWN and JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press
Updated: March 06, 2019 07:55 PM

DENVER (AP) - Acting U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says the nation's population of gray wolves has fully recovered across the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Gavin Shire says Bernhardt made the announcement during a speech Wednesday at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver. The weeklong event focuses on wildlife conservation policy and includes researchers, government officials and others.

Gray wolves received endangered species protections in 1975 when there were about 1,000 of them in Minnesota. There are now more than 5,000 living across the contiguous U.S.

Most are in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions.

Protections for Northern Rockies states' wolves were lifted in 2011 and hundreds are now killed annually by hunters.

Wildlife advocates say lifting the protections could halt wolves from returning to areas where they have been absent for decades.

Environmental groups say the gray wolf remains absent across a majority of its former range, including portions of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State and southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.

Collette Adkins with the Center for Biological Diversity says her group will go to court to attempt to stop the government from lifting protections.

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MATTHEW BROWN and JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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