Endangered or not, wolf killings set to expand

Billings, Mont. – Government agencies are seeking broad new authority to ramp up killings and removals of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes, despite recent court actions restoring the animal's endangered status across most of the country.

Various proposals would gas pups in their dens, surgically sterilize adult wolves and allow "conservation" hunts to drive down the predators' numbers.

Once exterminated across most of the West, wolves made a remarkable comeback in recent decades. Yet as packs continue to multiply, their taste for livestock is stoking a backlash.

Wildlife officials say that without public wolf hunting, agencies need greater latitude to eliminate problem packs.

Wolf advocates say the response to marauding wolves is too heavy-handed.