Lawmakers want gray wolf protections to stay

BILLINGS, Mont. - Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has joined dozens of lawmakers pressing federal Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to drop the Obama administration's plan to end federal protections for gray wolves across most of the lower-48 states.

Seventy-four House members, including Fitzpatrick, signed onto a Wednesday letter to Jewell that cites a peer-review panel's recent conclusion the government relied on unsettled science to make its case.
Wolves were added to the endangered-species list in 1975 after being widely exterminated in the last century. Protections already have been lifted for rebounding populations of the predators in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions.
The lawmakers led by Democratic Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio say protections elsewhere should remain in part because wolves have not yet repopulated suitable areas in California, Utah, Colorado and the Northeast.
A public comment period on Interior's proposal ends March 27.

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