Petition seeks nationwide return of the wolf

Petition seeks nationwide return of the wolf
This Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 picture shows a wolf track that was left near the carcass of an elk in Avery, Idaho. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Kathy Plonka)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Tens of thousands of gray wolves would be returned to the woods of New England, the mountains of California, the wide open Great Plains and the desert West under a scientific petition now before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

About 6,000 wolves live in the lower 48 states, with most of the predators in the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies. The species was trapped and poisoned to near-elimination last century and remain endangered except in Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

In a petition filed Tuesday, biologists for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity say the few, isolated pockets of wolves that have been nursed back to recovery are not enough. The group is asking the government to return wolves to suitable habitat across the country.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press)