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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 07:37 GMT
Lone wolf causes joy and concern

Conservationists in the United States are celebrating the first known instance of a wild grey wolf in the north-western state of Washington in nearly three decades.

Scientists believe that the wolf - known as Y206 - is searching for a mate.

But her appearance has also revived an ancient enmity - that of cattlemen versus the wolf.

So far, she has been preying on deer and elk.

But local cattle-owners say that other large predators, cougars, coyotes, and bears, already do enough damage.

Wolves became a protected species in the United States after they were nearly hunted to extinction.

Ranchers say they are worried that they will not be allowed to defend their land because of the wolf's protected status. However, re-introduced wolves enjoy less protection under the law.

If the lone wolf in Washington starts attacking livestock, she could well be shot.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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