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Lawmaker wants to ship gray wolves to Lower Peninsula, some wildlife experts skeptical


State Representative Greg Markkanen wants some Upper Peninsula wolves to be relocated downstate.

The House on Wednesday advanced a resolution that urges the state Department of Natural Resources to re-establish a viable and self-sustaining wolf population in the Lower Peninsula by taking wolves from the U.P.’s thriving population.

Markkanen says the Lower Peninsula contains thousands of acres of suitable habitat and prey. He thinks wolves would improve the ecology by targeting weak or sick prey, which could lead to healthier prey populations.

He says reintroduction of the animals downstate could reduce the spread of fatal diseases in deer, like chronic wasting disease and tuberculosis.

But wildlife biologist Brian Roell says the DNR does not facilitate or hinder the movement of wolves to areas where populations aren’t currently found.

“It kind of flies in the face of wildlife management and allowing the DNR to do its job.”

Roell also says wolves tend to stray from where you put them.

“It’s not like you’re going to bring them down here and say, ‘Hey, you guys got to stay in the Pigeon River.’ Well, they’re not going to do that," he said. "

"They’re going to move out. They’re going to find different territory. They may move long distances. They may even come back.”

The resolution is advancing to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation, along with a bill that which would implement the policy.

Around 700 gray wolves live in the Upper Peninsula. They were put back on the U.S. Endangered Species List a year ago.

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