By MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials have taken the first step to lift federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which would open the door to future hunting in several states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says state officials provided substantial evidence grizzlies have recovered from the threat of extinction in the regions surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

But federal officials also raised concerns about new state laws that could impact bears.

Friday’s move kicks off at least a year of further study before a final decision.

Grizzlies were wiped out in most of the U.S. during last century.

There are now more than 2,000 bears in the Lower 48 states and larger populations in Alaska.

Read more here.

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