The Obama administration on Wednesday announced it is lifting endangered species act protections for 5,500 gray wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes, the Associated Press reports.

Western lawmakers attached a rider to a federal budget bill that mandates the move for 1,300 wolves in the Northern Rockies, the article says. The rider also blocks legal challenges and marks the first time Congress has stripped a species of protections. About 4,200 wolves listed as threatened in the western Great Lakes also are slated to lose protections following a public comment period.

"To be sure, not everyone will be satisfied with today's announcement," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says. "These delistings are possible because the species is recovered in this region. That is a remarkable milestone for an iconic American species."

Read more in the Pinedale (WY) Roundup at

Meanwhile, a coalition of wildlife groups says it will sue to overturn the delisting bill. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies claims the legislation violates the constitutional separation of powers between executive and legislative branches of government. Read more at