Documents show state officials lobbied for sharp limits on federal protections for gray wolves in the lead-up to the Obama administration's recent proposal to take the animals off the endangered list across most of the Lower 48.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents reveal that state officials pressed their federal counterparts to exclude millions of acres in Colorado and Utah from wolf recovery efforts.
Service biologists earlier identified those states as suitable for wolves. The administration plan unveiled this month retains protections only in a small area of the Southwest.
The internal agency documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and provided to The Associated Press.
A Fish and Wildlife official insisted that science, not politics, drove the administration's proposal.