BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Conservation groups are asking Congress to hold off on pending legislation that would lift federal protections for endangered gray wolves.

The groups sent a letter to lawmakers Monday asking them to give a proposed settlement agreement on the issue time to work.

The agreement was reached last month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 10 conservation groups. Court approval is pending.

The deal would lift protections for about 1,250 of the predators in Montana and Idaho. Protections would remain at least temporarily for wolves in Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Utah.

Some Western lawmakers say there is no guarantee the court will approve the deal. They are pushing legislation on wolves that does not include safeguards sought by conservationists.

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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