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Obama Calls to De-list Wolves

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MISSOULA -

MISSOULA - The Obama Administration is proposing to lift most remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states.

This comes almost four decades after wolves were added to the endangered species list.

Several groups here in Missoula support the plan, saying it's the best way to manage Montana's wolf population.

Others said they fear without protection, the species could face extinction.

"We are saddened and disappointed with the Obama administrations decision to move forwards with national de-listing of wolves," said Marc Cooke, a member of Wolves of the Rockies.

Organizations around Missoula are split by the decision, groups like Wolves of the Rockies say they're afraid wolves could come to the brink of extinction under the plan.

"If Montana is moving forward with their policy, next year well be down to 250-300 wolves," Cooke said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service Plan calls for individual state agencies to manage wolves according to the needs of each state by monitoring populations, setting wolf hunting seasons and limits, and attempting to prevent and resolve livestock conflicts.
 
"[Friday's] decision represents something that has been needed for a long time, again we support informed management of wildlife and this is a step in that direction," said Tony Schoonen, of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Groups like the Boone and Crockett Club in Missoula say the plan is the best way to maintain Missoula's wolf population.

"There has been impact on not only wildlife but on livestock and ranching so this de-listing is going to be a positive move," Schoonen said.

While some consider wolves a threat to Montana elk and livestock, Wolves of the Rockies say the animals' population is critical to the state in more ways than one.

"Let's talk about Yellowstone. They bring at least $35 billion per year."

Schoonen says the fate of wolves across the nation has been tied up in courts for almost 10 years, being taken on and off the endangered species list.

"The future of the wolf, the future of the species, that has impact on should not be tied up in courts."

If wolves are de-listed, federal protections would remain only for a population of Mexican gray wolves in the desert southwest.

A 90 day comment period is set to take place before the official de-listing.

You can follow both sides of this issue by following the Wolves of the Rockies by clicking here, and visiting the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service's website.

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