Thursday, July 06, 2006

Agency says gray wolves on the rise in Michigan

6 are killed for livestock attacks

MARQUETTE -- The Upper Peninsula's gray wolf population rose again over the past year but the growth rate was down, a state wildlife official says. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources' annual census put the number of wolves at 434, up from 405 in 2005, said Brian Roell, the agency's Marquette-based wolf coordinator. The 2004 total was 360.

Meanwhile, officials said the DNR had killed six wolves in Ontonagon County since May under a permit granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The wolves had been attacking livestock, Roell said. "That's the only time we can exercise the permit, is for livestock depredation," he told the Mining Journal for a story Monday. The permit, which expires Dec. 31, allows Michigan officials to kill up to 40 wolves. They can do so only after numerous conditions are met. Among them: verification that the wolves attacked livestock and were likely to do so again. The DNR has investigated wolf depredation in Alger, Baraga and Ontonagon counties this summer, Roell said.

In March, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton proposed removing the wolf from the endangered species list for the upper Midwest. If approved, control over the wolf population would revert to state officials.

DNR biologists conduct the yearly wolf survey with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services personnel. They use methods such as tracking and aerial observation of radio-collared animals. The DNR regularly monitors about 50 wolves that have been fitted with radio collars to determine their movements and survival.

A track survey in the northern Lower Peninsula did not confirm the presence of any wolves, although three were detected in Presque Isle County in 2004.

DNR officials are reviewing the state's wolf management plan, assisted by a 20-member advisory committee. A public review of the updated plan is expected next March.

  • Detroit Free Press