By Laura Zuckerman SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – A district judge on Friday denied a request from conservationists to block Idaho’s efforts to trap and kill two wolf packs targeted for eradication in a federally protected wilderness area for preying on elk prized by hunters. The state Department of Fish and Game last month hired a trapper to eliminate the pair of wolf packs from the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, where wolves were imported from Canada in the mid-1990s in a bid to reintroduce the species to the Northern Rockies. Gray wolves were placed under safeguards of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1974, after being hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction decades earlier throughout the continental United States. But wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming lost their protected status in recent years as their numbers rebounded and states pushed to renew hunting and trapping rights, arguing that the predators had become too big a threat to livestock and to big-game animals such as elk.
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