DETROIT (AP) - Michigan now has a wolf hunting season after a board voted Thursday to allow hunters and trappers to kill up to 43 of the animals in selected parts of the Upper Peninsula.
The 6-week season will open Nov. 15 and end Dec. 31.
The seven-member Natural Resources Commission voted 6-1 in favor of the plan in Roscommon during its monthly meeting. The plan was recommended by state wildlife regulators.
Michigan becomes the sixth state to authorize hunting wolves since federal regulations were lifted over the past two years in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies. About 1,100 wolves have been killed by hunters and trappers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. About 658 of the animals are believed to be roaming remote areas in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Three harvest zones were chosen in the U.P. because of conflicts between wolves and humans. State officials say they've received a high number of complaints in those areas where wolves have preyed on livestock.
"We anticipate that this limited public harvest could both change wolf behavior over time - making them more wary of people, residential areas and farms - and reduce the abundance of wolves in these management areas that have experienced chronic problems," said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief. "We're aiming to decrease the number of conflicts and complaints while maintaining the long-term viability of the wolf population."
Commission chair J. R. Richardson called the commission's vote "a thoughtful, science-based decision."
It "ensures the long-term presence of wolves while providing a valuable tool for managing conflicts between wolves and human populations," he said.
A target of 16 wolves can be taken from Gogebic County; 19 from a region that includes portions of Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties; and eight from portions of Luce and Mackinac counties.
Wolf management units will be created for each region. Once the target harvest is reached in each unit, hunting is closed in that region for the season.
Hunters and trappers are allowed only one wolf each. Firearms, crossbows and bow and arrows can be used. Hunting and trapping is allowed on public and private land.
Starting Aug. 3, 1,200 wolf hunting licenses will be available. The cost is $100 for Michigan residents and $500 for nonresidents.