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Wolf status changes May 4

April 17, 2009
By John Pepin

MARQUETTE - The federal rule removing western Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list will take effect May 4, kicking in some Michigan orders granting lethal recourse to livestock and dog owners against problem wolves.

"Wolves would be under state management," said Michigan Department of Natural Resources wolf management coordinator Brian Roell in Marquette. "The (state) legislative bills would be effective."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule was published in the Federal Register Thursday. On April 22, wolves will also be reclassified in Michigan from state threatened species to non-game protected species.

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Management of wolves will be under state direction when a federal rule removing western Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list takes effect May 4.

"May 4 does not mean there will be a hunting season or anything," Roell said.

Future state legislative and Michigan Natural Resources Commission action would be required before hunting or trapping seasons could be established for gray wolves.

But the upcoming wolf delisting will allow two orders set last year by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to be enacted. Those rules grant dog and livestock owners permission to use lethal force against wolves if wolves are caught in the act of preying on their animals. The DNR would subsequently investigate each of those claims.

Between now and May 4, Roell is working on developing guidelines for the public and the DNR to put the provisions enacted under the Granholm orders into use.

"I'm taking my lead from law that was passed by the governor," Roell said.

More information detailing the provisions of the guidelines will be released by the DNR before the May 4 delisting deadline.

Federal delisting of gray wolves also puts Michigan's wolf management plan into effect. That plan was developed over the past few years, with the help of a panel representing widely-opposed viewpoints on wolf issues.

The plan details how wolves will be managed by wildlife officials in Michigan. Many of the plan's provisions will take some time to be put in place after delisting takes effect, Roell said.

Previous efforts to delist gray wolves were met with lawsuits. Opposition groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, have again threatened lawsuits to block the wolf delisting.

But Thursday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said no new suits have been received by the agency so far. The federal Endangered Species Act requires anyone planning to sue the government to file a notice of intent, 60 days in advance of filing the lawsuit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will monitor delisted wolf populations for a minimum of five years to ensure that they continue to sustain their recovery. At the end of the monitoring period, the FWS will decide if relisting, continued monitoring or ending monitoring is appropriate.

The federal delisting order will also apply to some wolves located in the western Rocky Mountains.

In 2008, a minimum of 520 gray wolves lived in the Upper Peninsula, part of an estimated population of 4,000 gray wolves living in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.



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