BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Montana wildlife officials suspended wolf hunting near Yellowstone National Park after nine kills in just three weeks pushed the area's harvest close its season-long quota.

This is Montana's first wolf hunt following the animal's recent removal from the endangered species list. State officials hoped to use the hunt to curb wolf attacks on livestock.

So far only two backcountry areas without livestock have been opened to hunting: the Absaroka-Beartooth Wildness near Yellowstone and parts of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The nine wolves killed to date near Yellowstone -- where the two-week suspension was ordered Thursday -- represent 75 percent of the quota for most of the southern half of the state.

Only three wolves can be harvested in the rest of the region. That means there is little likelihood hunting will reduce livestock attacks.

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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