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Gray wolves taken off endangered list

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Gray wolf populations in the U.S. Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act, officials said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and in portions of adjoining states from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants, a release by the U.S. Department of the Interior said Wednesday.

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"Once again, the Endangered Species Act has proved to be an effective tool for bringing species back from the brink of extinction," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "Thanks to the work of our scientists, wildlife managers, and our state, tribal, and stakeholder partners, gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region are now fully recovered and healthy."

There are more than 4,000 gray wolves in the three core recovery states in the western Great Lakes area, a total exceeding recovery goals, officials said.

Wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will be monitored for at least five years to ensure the species continues to thrive, they said.

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