Federal officials in Wyoming reached an agreement on Wednesday that will allow hunters to kill gray wolves and turns management of the animals over to state wildlife officials. In a separate decision, a judge in Montana denied an appeal challenging a congressional law that removed wolves from the U.S. endangered species list in April. Wednesday's agreement between U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Wyoming governor Matt Mead gives Wyoming the authority to manage wolf populations and classifies the animals as predators, allowing hunters to shoot on sight. A population of wolves, currently numbering 110, will remain protected in and around Yellowstone national park. The state must also maintain a non-park population of no fewer than 100 animals. Approximately 340 wolves live in Wyoming today. "The agreement we've reached with Wyoming recognizes the success of this iconic species and will ensure the long-term conservation of gray wolves," Salazar said. The gray wolf was removed from the Endangered Species list in April as part of a congressional budget agreement. Environmental groups had challenged Congress's authority to rule on the act, which judge Donald Molloy upheld yesterday.
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