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BILLINGS, Mont. | Opponents of grizzly bear hunts in Wyoming and Idaho have asked a judge to delay hunting for another two weeks while he considers if federal protections for the animals should be restored.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen last month put on hold for two weeks the first grizzly bear hunts to be scheduled in the Lower 48 states in decades.

That order expires Thursday.

Hunt opponents say state officials could immediately allow bears to be killed unless Christensen extends the delay.

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The U.S. Interior Department last year lifted protections on about 700 grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife advocates and Native American tribes have sued to restore their threatened species status.

Government biologists say the Yellowstone bears have recovered and should be managed by state wildlife agencies.

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