Feds delay review of plan to drop wolf protections

Federal officials are delaying a scientific analysis of a plan to drop legal protections for gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 states after three experts who had criticized the proposal were excluded from the review panel.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in June that the wolf should be removed from the endangered species list because it has recovered after disappearing from most of the nation decades ago. The agency wants continued protections in the Southwest.

A private contractor is overseeing a legally required peer review of the government's plan. Last week, the contractor told three scientists they couldn't serve on the panel because they'd signed a letter supporting continued wolf protection.

A spokesman said Tuesday that the Fish and Wildlife Service is reconsidering the review process.