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UPDATE: Federal plans to lift wolf protections could trigger Wisconsin hunt

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Lifting protections for gray wolves across most of the country would force Wisconsin wildlife officials to re-start wolf hunts.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose lifting protections for wolves across the Lower 48 states.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, signed a bill in 2012 that requires the Department of Natural Resources to hold a wolf hunt. The agency held three hunts before a federal judge placed Great Lakes Wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. The law remains valid, which means the DNR would have to reinstate the season if protections are lifted.

A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers didn’t immediately respond to an email.

The DNR estimated as many as 944 wolves roamed the state last winter.

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BILLINGS, MT (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials plan to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, a move certain to re-ignite the legal battle over a predator that’s rebounding in some regions but absent in others.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was expected to announce the proposal during a Wednesday speech before a wildlife conference in Denver.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Spokesman Gavin Shire tells the Associated Press the proposal is based on wolves successfully recovering from widespread extermination over the last century.

The wolves received endangered species protections in 1975 and there are now more than 5,000 in the contiguous U.S.

Most are in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions.

Protections for Northern Rockies states’ wolves were lifted in 2011 and hundreds are now killed annually by hunters.

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Associated Press

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