Hunters in the northern Rockies will soon take aim at a rare target—the gray wolf. The animal lost its protected species status in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming yesterday, and wildlife agencies in the region are looking to reduce the population by granting hunting licenses for the first time since 1973. An estimated 1,500 gray wolves now roam the region.
State agencies, however, would like to see the number as low as 900 because they say the wolves are killing too many livestock. Environmentalists say the population, once near extinction, will not have recovered until there are at least 2,000. As plans for a hunt in the fall come together, law firm Earthjustice is preparing to sue for protection to be reinstated. (Read more gray wolf stories.)