The Obama administration says it is lifting endangered species act protections for 5,500 wolves in five states in the Northern Rockies.
A similar measure was announced last month for the Great Lake states, including Minnesota.
The move will turn control over the predators to state wildlife agencies. Public hunts for hundreds of wolves already are planned this fall in Idaho and Montana.
Western lawmakers attached a rider to the federal budget bill mandating the move for 1,300 wolves in the Northern Rockies. The rider blocked legal challenges and marked the first time Congress has stripped a species of protections.
It came amid political pressure from agriculture and sporting groups to curb wolf attacks on livestock and big game.
About 4,200 wolves listed as threatened in the western Great Lakes also would lose protections following a public comment period.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)