Aug 15, 2012 - By Ben Neary, The Associated PressThe plan calls for Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation
CHEYENNE -- The federal government plans to announce an end to protections for wolves in Wyoming later this month.
Rather than ending years of wrangling between state and federal officials, however, the move promises to spark legal challenges from environmental groups outraged that the state plans to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas.
Wyoming has been chaffing under federal wolf protections for years. Ranchers and hunters started complaining that wolves were taking an unacceptable toll on cattle and wildlife soon after the federal government reintroduced the species to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead last year reached an agreement with U.S. Interior Sec. Ken Salazar that calls for the state to take over wolf management. The deal followed a long series of lawsuits involving the state, the federal government and environmental groups driven by the state's desire to take over wolf management.
The federal government's final delisting plan calls for Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in the state outside Yellowstone.
The state intends to classify wolves in the remaining 90 percent of Wyoming as predators, subject to being killed anytime by anyone.
The state would take over wolf management responsibility 30 days after the scheduled Aug. 31 publication of the federal government's final delisting rule.
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