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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list is prompting howls of protest from environmentalists and congressional Democrats and has given ranchers, hunters and Republican lawmakers reason to cheer.Other Americans can also weigh in. People have until Dec. 17 to tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service what they think about the proposed rule to lift federal protections for the gray wolf in much of the continental United States.The Mexican wolf, found only in the Southwest, would remain on the list, meaning it will be illegal under federal law to kill or harm the animals. There are about 75 Mexican wolves.The wildlife agency will issue a final rule next year after reviewing public input. As of late Thursday, it had received 194,188 comments dating back to June 13, when the administration announced the gray and Mexican wolf proposals. A majority of the comments oppose de-listing.The administration de-listed 1,674 gray wolves thought to be living in the Northern Rocky Mountains last year and 4,432 animals in the western Great Lakes region in 2011. Officials justified the decisions by saying both wolf populations had exceeded the “minimum recovery goals” of 300 for three consecutive years.This year’s proposal would de-list the wolves in Oregon and Washington — home to about 46 and 51 animals respectively — and 40 other states where the wolves could potentially move to if their numbers increase in the territory they now inhabit.Critics oppose federal de-listing because that leaves it up to the states to decide how to manage wolves living within their boundaries. They say states have ramped up hunting quotas and fear that the gray wolf’s slow and fragile recovery could be overturned.Gray wolves in the contiguous states have been under federal protection since 1967.