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Oceans and land
Somerset police dog praised for successfully tracking suspect
On the track to the moors
Initiative to improve sustainable fish labelling unveiled
Protection of grey wolves may be ended by Obama administration
RSPCA comes under fire for badger cull protests
The rain released from the parched ground that glorious earthy perfume
May's diverse wildlife finds hedgerows the perfect home
The pink-footed geese seemed restless, as if uncertain what they were doing
Study links insecticide use to invertebrate die-offs
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Waitrose pledges to source all seafood from independently certified providers
It's the first time I've heard the chiffchaff's song this year
Edinburgh zoo's pandas help boost visitor numbers by 51%
Their bombastic majesties begin the nectar frenzy
Pandas have saved Edinburgh zoo from extinction but what for?
Insecticide spraying will be expanded to control pest caterpillar
This is the EU's best chance in a decade to reduce fish discards
Fish company investigated after salmon farm pollutes Scottish loch
Poachers kill 26 elephants at central African world heritage site
New to nature No 103: Tinkerbella nana
Sand martins dig tunnels in the dunes
World's tallest dam approved by Chinese environmental officials
Justin Bieber 'owes thousands' after leaving monkey hanging in Germany
A brief stillness before the damselfly's short life on the wing would begin
  Protection of grey wolves may be ended by Obama administration
The Obama administration was on Friday on the verge of lifting protection for grey wolves across most of the country, ending a 20-year effort to bring the animals back to their historic range.

The move would withdraw protection in all lower 48 states for an iconic animal which is seen by its defenders as a symbol of the wide open spaces of the Rocky Mountain West and by cattle ranchers as a plague on their herds. Only a small population of about 75 Mexican gray wolves, in Arizona and New Mexico, would remain under federal government protection, according to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a draft of the rule.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service told reporters the new rule was still under review, and would be open for public comment.

The decision had been expected for some time. After being hunted into extinction at the beginning of the 20th century, as an official government policy, wolf populations had rebounded in states like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming after the species was re-introduced. The Obama administration ended protections for wolves in those states in 2011, because of the strong recovery.

The federal government also allowed hunting in the Rocky Mountain West leading to the death last year of 10 wolves in the area around the Yellowstone national park, including seven which were wearing radio collars. One of those was the Alpha Female No 6, arguably the most photographed wolf. The administration continued to monitor pack populations, and was prepared to reintroduce protections if needed.

The latest moves, as revealed in the draft, would leave it up to individual states to manage wolf populations. Conservationists said that could undermine wolves' recovery in large parts of the Rockies. Officials reasoned that the recovery of the population in the Rocky Mountain states, where there are an estimated 1,600 wolves, and scattered populations in California, Oregon, Washington and parts of New England meant the animals were assured of survival across lasrge parts of the country. However, wildlife biologists argued ending protections for wolves risked undoing a rare conservation success story.

Since their re-introduction in the 1990s, with about 60 animals brought in from Canada, wolf populations have rebounded in the Rocky Mountain West. The animals were prolific breeders and they also roamed widely, re-establishing populations across large swathes of the Rockies.

But there was a strong backlash against their recovery from ranchers, who faced attacks on their livestock, and from hunters, who said the animals were taking too big a toll on elk populations.
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RSPB accused of hypocrisy for killing hundreds of birds on its reserves
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Marine Harvest agrees to limit pesticides and seal killings
Schmallenberg vaccine available to UK farmers this summer
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