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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government attorneys will appear before a federal judge Friday to defend a decision from the waning days of the Trump administration that lifted protections for gray wolves across most of the country, as Republican-led states have sought to drive down wolf numbers through aggressive hunting and trapping.

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Federal wildlife officials overseeing the world's only wild population of endangered red wolves announced Wednesday that they are abandoning a 2018 plan to limit the animals' territory and loosen protections for wolves that strayed from that area.

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