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FILE - This April 18, 2008, file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf. A scientific review says the U.S. government’s bid to lift federal protections for gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 states is based on unproven claims about their genetics. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service peer review panel released its report Friday Feb. 7, 2014. It represents a significant setback for the pending proposal to take gray wolves off the endangered species list except in the desert Southwest.

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BILLINGS, Mont. — A proposal to lift federal protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. suffered a significant setback Friday as an independent review panel said the government is relying on unsettled science to make its case. Federal wildlife officials want to remove the animals from the endangered species list across the Lower 48 states, except for a small population in the Southwest.

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