WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species. Long despised by farmers and ranchers, wolves were shot, trapped and poisoned out of existence in most of the U.S. by the mid-20th century. Since securing protection in the 1970s, wolves have bounced back in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. The Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the wolf’s status and is expected to declare they’ve recovered sufficiently to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The House bill enshrines that policy in law. It was approved, 196-180, and now goes to the Senate.