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Great Lakes wolf protection to be removed

WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government says it will propose, for the third time, removing the Great Lakes gray wolf from the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday the numbers of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area, including Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, have recovered and the species no longer requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported.

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With more than 4,000 animals in the three states, mostly in Minnesota, wildlife officials in each state are making plans to manage wolves once federal protection is no longer needed, the newspaper said.

Two previous attempts by federal officials to remove wolves in the region from federal protection were overturned by courts when environmental groups challenged how much protection the wolves still required.

Fish and Wildlife officials says recent scientific studies indicate there are two distinct species of gray wolf in the region, the gray wolf and the eastern gray wolf, and said they will begin the process of assessing the range of the eastern wolf.

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