Panel says assumption of ‘eastern wolf’ species not justified

One of the assumptions basic to the federal government’s wolf recovery plan may be in error . . .

A proposal to lift federal protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. suffered a significant setback Friday as an independent review panel said the government is relying on unsettled science to make its case.

Federal wildlife officials want to remove the animals from the endangered species list across the Lower 48 states, except for a small population in the Southwest.

The five-member U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service peer-review panel was tasked with reviewing the government’s claim that the Northeast and Midwest were home to a separate species, the eastern wolf.

If the government were right, that would make gray wolf recovery unnecessary in those areas.

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