BILLINGS — The Obama administration says it is lifting Endangered Species Act protections for 5,500 wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.
The move will turn control over the predators to state wildlife agencies. Public hunts for hundreds of wolves already are planned this fall in Idaho and Montana.
Western lawmakers attached a rider to the federal budget bill mandating the move for 1,300 wolves in the Northern Rockies. The rider blocked legal challenges and marked the first time Congress has stripped a species of protections.
It came amid political pressure from agriculture and sporting groups to curb wolf attacks on livestock and big game.
About 4,200 wolves listed as threatened in the western Great Lakes also would lose protections following a public comment period.
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