UNDATED, WI (WTAQ) - The head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is strongly defending its plan to drop federal protections for grey wolves in most of the 48 mainland states.
Director Dan Ashe said a restoration of the wolves in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest is one of the greatest conversation success stories ever.
Ashe said it proves that grey wolves are no longer in danger of dying out.
Public hearings begin in Washington Monday on a plan first announced in June.
It would remove grey wolves from the endangered species' list everywhere in the continental U.S. except for parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
That's where Mexican wolves are struggling for survival.
Environmentalists say it's too soon to drop federal protections -- and several groups have gone to court to return wolves back to the federal endangered species' list. They were upset that the Badger State and others started wolf hunts, aimed at reducing crop and livestock damage caused by grey wolves.