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Environmentalists oppose push to end federal wolf protections to prevent expanded range

Western environmental groups say they're alarmed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a plan to end federal protections for gray wolves in areas where the animals no longer exist.

The groups say ending federal protections would keep wolves from expanding their range back into states that could support them, including Colorado and California.

The federal agency intends to announce this spring whether it will propose a blanket delisting of wolves in the lower 48 states. Wolves in the Northern Rockies and around the Great Lakes, where reintroduced populations are well-established, are already off the Endangered Species List.

The prospect of the national delisting has prompted members of Congress on both sides of the issue to lobby the Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

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