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Associated Press Researchers have experimented with using rubber bullets or buckshot

PRAY (AP) - Federal wildlife managers are discussing giving ranchers more authority to harass and kill troublesome wolves to keep them away from livestock.

Ed Bangs, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's federal wolf recovery program, said some researchers have experimented with using rubber bullets or buckshot for harassing wolves away from livestock and found them effective.

Lawyers are looking at how such a program could be incorporated into the federal program to restore wolves to the Northern Rockies.

"It's something we can do, but it's not something we can do easily right now - but we are looking at it," he said.

In addition, the leading federal wolf control agent in Montana called for giving ranchers more leeway to kill wolves.

Carter Niemeyer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services division, which is now charged with controlling wolves that kill livestock, said killing wolves quickly after a livestock attack will deter other wolves in the same pack.

"Is it that bad to let a rancher shoot a wolf on his private property?" Niemeyer asked about 150 people attending an annual interagency wolf conference at Chico Hot Springs. "Perhaps more wolves will live by letting people exercise their private property rights than will die otherwise."

Although wolves are endangered under federal law, they were reintroduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho as an experimental population rule that allows ranchers to shoot wolves in the act of attacking livestock.

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