Michigan board OKs wolf hunt in Upper Peninsula

Published 9:38 am Friday, July 12, 2013

DETROIT — The Michigan Natural Resources Commission on Thursday again approved hunting of once-federally protected wolves in the Upper Peninsula under a new state law passed to circumvent a referendum on an earlier hunting law.

The commission voted for a hunt that runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 31. It allows the killing of up to 43 gray wolves in seven counties. The hunt follows last year’s removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list based on their recovery in the upper Great Lakes and Rocky Mountains regions.

Wolves once roamed across Michigan and most of the lower 48 states, but were nearly wiped out in the last century. After they were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1974, a remnant population in Minnesota began expanding and gradually migrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the predator has flourished.

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A recent census by the state Department of Natural Resources put the population at 658.

“We anticipate that this limited public harvest could both change wolf behavior over time — making them more wary of people, residential areas and farms — and reduce the abundance of wolves in these management areas that have experienced chronic problems,” DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said in a statement. “We’re aiming to decrease the number of conflicts and complaints while maintaining the long-term viability of the wolf population.”

The commission also approved a wolf hunt in May, but a petition drive for a referendum put the decision on hold.