Rockies gray wolf numbers steady despite hunting

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Updated: 4/04 1:55 pm

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A new population tally of gray wolves in the U.S. Northern Rockies shows their continued resilience despite increased hunting, trapping and government-sponsored pack removals.

State and federal agencies said Friday there were a minimum of 1,691 wolves at the end of 2013.

That's virtually unchanged from the prior year even as state wildlife agencies adopted aggressive tactics to drive down wolf numbers.

Under pressure from livestock and hunting groups, Idaho officials have used helicopters to shoot packs. Montana has eased hunting and trapping rules.

Federal wolf recovery coordinator Mike Jimenez says he expects the population to gradually decline over time in the face of the states' efforts, but to remain healthy.

A pending proposal would lift protections for wolves across much of the remaining Lower 48 states.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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