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Gray wolf population steady but future uncertain

A bit of positive news from the natural resources front surfaced Monday when the Associated Press reported the wolf population in the state — principally the Upper Peninsula — has apparently stabilized.

According to AP, the gray wolf count is around 695, divided up into about 143 packs.

These latest statistics do not include about 15 wolves transplanted onto Isle Royale National Park and what could be described as a handful occasionally reported below the Mackinaw Bridge.

For all intents and purposes, Michigan’s gray wolf population is located in the 15 Upper Peninsula counties.

“Our survey results continue to demonstrate that Michigan’s wolf population has recovered,” Dan Kennedy, acting chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division, told the AP.

The species, among the most loved and reviled in Michigan forest lands, has slowly made a comeback in recent decades after being added to the federal endangered species list in the 1970s.

AP noted that by 2004, wolves had reached the recovery goal of staying above 200 for five consecutive years. They were dropped from the state’s list of threatened and endangered species in 2009.

In 2013, a controversial wolf hunt was held and 22 animals were killed. Several court cases have ensued and no hunt is currently scheduled.

It appears that estimates suggest the species is about where wildlife managers want it to be, given the many factors impacting population that come into play.

It’s going to be instructive to learn how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources develops policy regarding gray wolves, going forward.

One can almost hear the court injunctions being filed.

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