The Obama administration used flawed research in devising a plan to strip gray wolves across the continental United States of Endangered Species Act protections, and discounted evidence that failed to support it, a scientific panel said in a report released on Friday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last June said wolves in the lower 48 states no longer faced extinction after decades of recovery efforts and proposed removing them from the U.S. threatened and endangered species list. (Report on wolves: http://r.reuters.com/quz66v) Distinct wolf populations in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes were already delisted in recent years as their numbers rebounded in those regions. The administration latest plan renewed a debate between supporters and opponents of wolves, which were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in the continental United States before coming under federal safeguards in the 1970s.