Management authority of gray wolves in the Great Lakes region might change from federal to state if federal wildlife officials go through with removing the species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species.. According to the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service, or USFWS, more than 4,000 gray wolves live in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. About 557 of those wolves reside within Michigan boundaries, with a high concentration in the Upper Peninsula and a small presence in the Lower Peninsula as well.
Members of the species were once present in all counties of Michigan, and were reduced to only one pair of wolves through persecution and hunting until they were placed on the endangered species list and given legal protections in 1965.
Officials from USFWS proposed plans to delist gray wolves from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species last month because of this growth in numbers.
Such a change would put the wolves under state management policy and remove some of the current protections in place for the animals. Under the current policy, wolves are considered endangered species and are illegal to shoot or kill unless in defense of human life.
All three of the Great Lakes states involved already have plans to manage the respective wolf populations in place. Michigan’s management policy, if made legal with a delisting of wolves from the endangered species list, would allow farmers to shoot wolves in defense of their livestock.
Many citizens of the area in question and groups such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have asked for the delisting of wolves from the list since the species’ reinstatement in 2009 to protect livestock in the area.
Representatives of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources also support the delisting of gray wolves, and plan to issue data supporting the proposal in the near future.
Some environmental groups are against the proposal because of the negative ramifications the decision might have on the recently rebounded wolf population. Such dissenters have said a better idea would be to keep the species on the list and look into ways to control the wolves without killing them to protect domestic animals.
The USFWS proposal to remove the wolves from the list will soon be posted on the Federal Registrar, where interested citizens, governmental agencies, representatives from Native American tribes and others will be able to voice their opinions. Officials said they would like to see the situation resolved within the year.