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Wolf Hunt Aims to Solve Overpopulation Problem

Apr 30, 2014 12:20 PM EDT
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Gray wolves are running freely in states like Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and an annual wolf hunt this year was thought to be the solution to their overpopulation problem.

The furry predator is under scrutiny for attacking people's livestock, one reason for a recent hunt in Michigan, in which hunters killed 22 wolves, including a pup as young as half-a-year old, according to MLive.com.

The 45-day hunting season that began Nov. 15 had little impact on one of the state's top predators, a top state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wolf expert said.

Studies this past winter place the 2014 population at 636, down 22 from last year, but that's only a slight dip, the second decline in two years. Wolves in the Michigan area have been swiftly growing since the early 1990s, leading to their removal from the federal protection list.

The DNR had hoped as many as 43 wolves would be killed in three Upper Peninsula areas with livestock and dog depredations, as well as human conflicts. Before the Michigan hunt, 13 wolf attacks were documented on livestock in 2013, almost all cattle, the DNR reported.

"The goal for the season was to apply downward pressure on the wolf population," Dave MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist, said, according to the French Tribune.

In Wisconsin, the DNR hopes to lower the canine population to 350 as per the 1999 Wolf Management Plan.

Some people worry that targeting the gray wolf will actually cause more harm than good. A recent study conducted by Ohio State University speculates that discontinuing protection for the animal could unintentionally endanger other species in the region.

American Indian tribes are not happy over the wolf plan, saying that wolves provide both ecological and spiritual benefits, said Peter David, biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

"We will be closely monitoring the wolf packs and any future reported conflicts in order to gather the best possible data, which will guide future management of the species," DNR spokeswoman Debbie Munson Badini concluded.

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