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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is altering a rule that will make it easier to kill gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Gray wolves in the area are still protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, though the FWS intends to delist them this spring and hand management over to the states. The rule change allows states and tribes with wolf-management plans to kill wolves in areas where deer and elk populations are declining and would let landowners kill wolves caught attacking dogs or livestock. “This is a giant step backward,” said Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife. “Under the rule finalized today, more than 750 wolves — over half of the region’s wolf population — could be killed, even though this wolf population is still protected by the Endangered Species Act.”

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