Michigan DNR appeals wolves’ endangered classification

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources is wading back into the debate over wolves in the state by filing an appeal of a federal agency’s recent reclassification of the animals as an endangered species.

After years of back and forth over the status of wolves, a federal judge in December put wolves in the Great Lakes region on the protected list again. The move is considered questionable by many Michigan residents who argue the state’s wolf population — located in the Upper Peninsula — needs to be managed because of the risk of attacks to domestic animals and possibly humans.

On Friday, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to reinstate a 2011 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove wolves from the endangered species list. The service this month reclassified the wolves as endangered after the federal judge’s ruling.

“Returning wolf management to wildlife professionals in the state of Michigan is critical to retaining a recovered, healthy, and socially accepted wolf population in our state,” Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh said in a statement. “Michigan residents who live with wolves deserve to have a full range of tools available to sustainably manage that population.”

A citizen-initiated law that was scheduled to go in effect in March would let the state Natural Resources Commission manage the wolves, including through hunting. Michigan held its first state-sanctioned hunt in 75 years in 2013, resulting in the killing of 23 wolves.

Others want to see the wolves remain protected here, where their numbers are estimated at a little more than 600. When the judge placed the wolves back under federal protection two months ago, the decision was welcomed in some Michigan circles.

“This is a huge victory for our campaign and the thousands of supporters who worked tirelessly to save these majestic animals,” Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, said at the time.


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