Friday, March 17, 2006

Great Lakes gray wolves no longer endangered -US

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Interior Department on Thursday proposed to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, would no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Instead they would be shielded by state and tribal programs, Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton said in a press conference call.

The final decision will be made in eight to 12 months following a public comment period.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, an arm of the Interior Department, estimates some 4,000 gray wolves now live in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, up from between 700 and 1,000 when the animal was classified as endangered in 1974.

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