BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials say they want to maintain grizzly bear numbers in the three-state Yellowstone region near current levels as they move toward lifting protections for the threatened species.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Serena Baker said Wednesday the agency has set a management goal of 674 grizzly bears across the 19,000-square-mile region.

That's consistent with the average grizzly population over the last decade, but slightly below the most recent tally of 714 bears.

The Yellowstone region encompasses a vast area of wilderness, parks and forested lands in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Conflicts between bears and humans have spiked in recent years as the grizzly population pushed into areas with more people.

State wildlife officials want federal protections lifted to allow limited hunting.