US: Wolves may need protections after states expand hunting

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – The Biden administration says federal protections may need to be restored for gray wolves in the western U.S. after Republican-led states made it much easier to kill the predators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday that the region’s wolves face new potential perils, after a decades-long restoration was capped by their return to state management.

Republican lawmakers in Montana and Idaho are intent on culling wolf packs blamed for periodic attacks on livestock and reducing deer and elk herds that hunters prize.

Wildlife advocates asked the Biden administration to intervene, warning wolf numbers could fall to unsustainable levels.

On Tuesday, dozens of American Indian tribes were demanding the Biden administration enact emergency protections for gray wolves. Groups representing the tribes sent a letter Tuesday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland asking her to place wolves back on the endangered species list on an emergency basis for 240 days.

The groups say the tribes consider the wolf sacred and the animal faces immediate threats in states that have enacted “anti-wolf” policies. The letter doesn’t name any states or policies, but it comes after Wisconsin hunters blew past their kill quotas in that state’s spring season and legislators in Idaho and Montana loosened hunting rules.

– Compiled from multiple Associated Press stories.