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Gray wolves back on endangered species list; two Michigan laws suspended as a result

Eric Cole
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Gray wolf looking back over its shoulder.

Gray wolves were placed back on the federal endangered species list Feb. 10, as a result of a federal judge’s ruling in California.

The ruling suspends two state laws in Michigan. One allows people to remove, capture or kill wolves in the act of preying on pets and hunting dogs. The other law offers the same means for livestock owners.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources supported the decision to federally delist wolves in 2020.

“We’ve long surpassed those levels that were set by both the state and federal authorities for wolves being a recovered species in Michigan,” says Ed Golder, a public information officer for the DNR.

The state goal for restoration was a minimum population of 200 wolves for five consecutive years. Golder said Michigan has had a minimum of nearly 700 wolves for more than a decade.

Don Clark is a cattle rancher in Engadine, in the Upper Peninsula. Although he hasn’t actually shot a wolf on his property, he said his cows have frequent encounters.

“I’ve had to stitch them up, and I’ve had calves I had to put down. You don’t see the interactions, but they’re all verified with wolves,” he said. “If something is killing my animals I have to protect them.”

The decision to restore wolf protections comes as some are advocating for a wolf hunt across the Upper Peninsula. Now, that cannot happen anytime soon.

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