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Controversial Michigan Wolf Hunt Causes Excitement and Criticism [VIDEO]

Aug 14, 2013 05:38 PM EDT

A Michigan state government plan to allow for the hunting of wolves has caused both excitement and controversy in a state where wolves were recently delisted as an endangered species.

Wolf hunting licenses were meant to go on sale Aug. 10 but the date has been pushed back to Sept. 28 so officials can better prepare to handle the frenzy anticipated as eager hunters rush to grab one of a limited number of licenses, which will cost $100.

The move to allow a brief wolf hunting season from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 was given the green light in July, but a number of advocate groups are calling to suspend the planned wolf hunt.

Howling for Wolves, a Minneapolis-based wolf conservation group, made a public appeal Wednesday to suspend the proposed hunting season, contending that the number of wolves in Michigan is unknown and a regulated hunting and trapping season in 2012 brought the state's wolf population to the lowest it has been since 1988.

"The degree of uncertainty surrounding the exact population of the wolf is alarming which is why our coalition is urging a suspension of the planned wolf hunt," Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling for Wolves, said in a statement.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there are more than 650 wolves in the state. However Howling for Wolves disputes that number, contending that Michigan state officials do not know the true extent of the 2012 wolf hunt.

Great Lakes region wolves were removed from the Federal Endangered Species List on Jan. 27 2012.

Michigan plans to sell 1,200 wolf-hunting licenses and has mandated that the total wolf take for the 2013 season will be capped at 43, adding that no more than one kill per person will be allowed. The hunting area is restricted to three zones in the state's Upper Peninsula (U.P.) region, a region DNR bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump called "roughly 12 percent of the U.P," according to The Leader newspaper.

"There is a high amount of interest in these licenses," Bump said, adding that the reason to postpone the sale of the hunting license is to give vendors more time to prepare for what is expected to be a rush.

DNR Director Keith Creagh said in a statement that the decision to allow a managed wolf hunt was "the culmination of a long and thorough process" by state officials.

"The DNR will continue to work closely with the commission to be certain that Michigan's wolf population is managed according to the principles of sound science," he said.

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