LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A Senate committee has approved a Republican amendment to strip federal protection from gray wolves in three Great Lakes states and Wyoming.

The measure also prohibits courts from intervening in those states on behalf of the embattled predator.

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Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming sponsored the amendment to delist the gray wolf in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. The Senate Environment Committee approved the bill and it now goes to the full Senate.

Barrasso says the amendment recognizes that the four states have workable plans to protect wolves without federal intervention. He says it’s time to “recognize the science and focus our scarce taxpayer resources on truly imperiled species.”

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Wolves nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states in the last century but have bounced back in some areas with federal protection. The combined population in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin is about 3,700.

But animal protection advocates contend the wolves’ situation remains uncertain and have sued repeatedly over more than a decade over federal efforts to remove the shield provided by the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits killing them except in defense of human life.

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