Protections for wolverines draw states' opposition

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- State officials in the Northern Rockies are opposing a federal proposal that cites climate change as a looming threat to the carnivorous wolverine, which depends on deep mountain snows to survive.

The pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would declare the rare, elusive animal a threatened species across the Lower 48 states. That could end trapping of the so-called "mountain devil," and allow Colorado potentially to reintroduce the animals in the southern Rocky Mountains.

But Montana, Idaho and Wyoming officials said Monday that federal protections aren't necessary for the estimated 250-300 wolverines that live in the region. Biologists say it could take decades for warming temperatures to shrink their mountain habitat.

Environmentalists want the federal government to consider even stronger protections. They say the danger of extinction has been understated.

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