Congressmen say wolves still endangered

Billings, MT – Five congressmen from the House Natural Resources Committee want to delay a plan to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the federal endangered species list.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the congressmen wrote that states ``hostile to wolf conservation'' could reduce today's 1,500 wolves to ``as few as 300'' if the predators lose protected status.

The December 17th letter was signed by the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Democrat Nick Rahall of West Virginia. It also was signed by Democratic Representative George Miller of California; Democratic Representative Norm Dicks of Washington; Republican Representative Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland; and Republican Representative Jim Saxton of New Jersey.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which Kempthorne oversees, plans to announce the delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies next month.

That would allow Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to host public hunts for the animals.