Montana seeks 'conservation hunt' for wolves

Montana seeks 'conservation hunt' for wolves
This 2004 photograph provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows an adult male wolf from the Lazy Creek pack north of Whitefish, Mont. (AP Photo/Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials say they have applied for a special "conservation hunt" for endangered gray wolves.

Seventy-two wolves were killed in the state's inaugural wolf hunt last year. But this year's season was blocked when U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy restored Endangered Species Act protections for the animals on Aug. 5.

The proposed conservation hunt would be modeled on the canceled hunt with a quota of 186 wolves.

State officials earlier this month asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an expedited decision on their application so hunting could take place this fall. The proposal has drawn sharp criticism from wildlife advocates who accuse the state of making an end-run around the courts.

At least 525 wolves live in Montana.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.