US wildlife agency seeks to carve out areas from protections

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials are proposing to exempt some areas from habitat protections meant to save imperiled species.

Friday's announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would place greater weight on the economic benefits of developments when deciding if land or water should be protected.

It's the latest move by the Trump administration in a years-long overhaul of how the Endangered Species Act is used.

Wildlife advocates say it could allow more drilling, mining and other activities in areas that are crucial to the survival of dwindling populations of plants and animals.

Administration officials say the proposal gives more deference to local community needs. 

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