MARQUETTE - Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list on Tuesday, a move that officially transfers wolf management authority to the state level.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will now manage wolves under provisions specified in the state wolf management plan.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to return wolf management to the state of Michigan shows their confidence in our ability to successfully manage a viable wolf population," said DNR wolf program coordinator Brian Roell.
Now that the gray wolf has been removed from the federal endangered species list, the DNR has wolf management authority in the state.
The DNR now has the authority to use lethal control to manage wolves in cases where nonlethal methods, such as husbandry practices, noise-making devices, barrier fencing and rubber bullets, are not successful or viable. Lethal control of problem wolves was not allowed while wolves remained on the federal endangered species list.
"Non-lethal control and educating the public about wolf behavior remains our preferred means of managing the wolf population," Roell said. "But having the option to remove wolves with a documented history of depredation on livestock or pets will help improve public perception of wolf management and should increase the public's acceptance of wolves in our environment."
Additionally, the removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list activates legislation passed last year allowing livestock and pet owners to use immediate, lethal control against wolves that are attempting to kill or injure domestic animals.
Livestock and pet owners should be aware of the following regulations governing the legal use of lethal control:
l The wolf must be in the act of preying upon (attempting to kill or injure) livestock or a pet. A wolf merely present near domestic animals does not authorize the use of lethal control.
l Lethal control of a wolf must be reported to the Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800 within 12 hours of the taking.
l Possession of the wolf carcass must be retained until a DNR official is available to take possession. A DNR official will respond to the scene within 12 hours of notification.
l The wolf carcass shall not be moved, unless normal farming practices will be impeded. In that case, the wolf may be moved to a secure location, but not before photos are taken of the wolf and the area where lethal control was used. If lethal control is taken by a pet owner, the wolf must not be moved.
The specific legal language governing these regulations is posted online at www.michigan.gov/wolves.
"Though the methods available for managing wolves have expanded to allow lethal control when appropriate, it is important to remember that wolves remain a protected nongame species in Michigan," Roell said.
"No hunting season is in place, and it remains illegal to kill a wolf without permission, unless the wolf poses a threat to human life or is in the process of attacking livestock or a pet," Roell added. "Poaching cases should be immediately reported to the state's Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800."
For more information, contact Roell at (906) 228-6561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.