Gray wolves could be stripped of state endangered species protections once at least 50 of the animals are roaming in California, wildlife officials said Wednesday.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a draft plan for managing gray wolves, which were granted protections last year but whose numbers are growing. It outlines efforts to minimize livestock loss and ways to ensure there's enough prey for wolves, other predators and hunters.
Under California's protections, gray wolves can't be killed or hunted. U.S. law also protects wolves in most of the nation, except for Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. But there is a pending proposal to strip federal protections from most of the Lower 48 states, including California.
Once there are between 50 and 75 wolves in California, the state's proposal suggests considering whether wolves should be removed from a list of endangered animals.