BOISE - Good news for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains: They no longer need federal protection. The bad news for the animals? Plans are already in the works to hunt them.

Federal Endangered Species Act protection of the wolves was lifted Friday in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, giving those states management of the estimated 1,500 gray wolves in the region.

Even though environmentalists plan to sue the federal government next month to restore wolf protections, hunts already are being scheduled by state wildlife agencies to reduce the wolf population to between 900 and 1,250.

Idaho hunters will be allowed to kill between 100-300 of the animals this fall.

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