BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Obama administration is proposing to lift most remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states almost four decades after they were added to the endangered species list.
An official announcement is scheduled Friday.
More than 6,100 wolves roam parts of the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that those populations are robust enough to stave off extinction.
Federal protections would remain only for a fledgling population of Mexican gray wolves in the desert Southwest.
Some prominent scientists and dozens of lawmakers in Congress want broader protections to remain in place so wolves can expand, including in the Northeast and along the West Coast.