Gray wolves in Montana and Idaho will officially start fearing two words tomorrow: hunting season. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will lift federal protections for the animal under the Endangered Species Act, reports Reuters. The two states have an estimated 1,200 wolves, which is way too many for farmers and hunters who say they pose a big threat to livestock and big game. Another 4,000 wolves in western Great Lakes states are expected to be in the same boat by the end of the year, notes AP.
"To be sure, not everyone will be satisfied with today's announcement," says Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Wolves have long been a highly charged issue. These delistings are possible because the species is recovered in these regions. That is a remarkable milestone for an iconic American species." The wolves' fate was sealed during the budget debate, marking the first time an animal lost protection via an act of Congress rather than a scientific review. Click for the official news release. (Read more gray wolf stories.)