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      Gray wolf off the list; no longer endangered species

      The gray wolf has now officially been removed from the Federal Endangered Species List.

      What does this mean for the wolf? Wolf management will now be in the hands of states.

      â??Delisting is a victory for the state and for Michigan citizens who have been affected by this issue,â?? said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. â??The stateâ??s healthy wolf population is a reminder that Michigan still has places where wild animals such as wolves can live and thrive. Fully implementing the stateâ??s Wolf Management Plan will allow us to more effectively respond to problem wolves, while maintaining a self-sustaining wolf population and increasing social acceptance of the species as a whole.â??

      The Michigan Department of Natural Resources approved a Wolf Management Plan in 2008, and the Michigan Legislature passed a set of laws dealing with wolves at that time.

      The DNR still recommends nonlethal methods of control as a first option for residents. However, where nonlethal methods aren't feasible, this change in wolf protection gives state officials more flexibility when dealing with the animals.

      Michigan residents will also be able to deal with a problem animal under certain circumstances.

      The laws passed by the Michigan Legislature allow livestock and dog owners to remove, capture, or, if deemed necessary, use lethal means to destroy a wolf that is "in the act of preying upon" (attempting to kill or injure) the owner's livestock or dog. These state laws took effect on Friday. There are guidelines to follow if a wolf is killed using these laws.

      1. Report the lethal take of a wolf by calling the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 1-800-292-7800 no later than 12 hours after the lethal take.

      2. Retain possession of the wolf until a DNR official is available to take possession. A DNR official will respond to the scene within 12 hours of notification.

      3. Do not move or disturb the dead wolf. The only exception to this rule is if a wolf has been killed in the act of preying upon livestock and leaving the wolf in place would impede normal farming practices. In that case the wolf may be moved to a secure location once photographs are taken of the wolf and the area where lethal means were used.

      "Although lethal control methods are now legal in certain circumstances, wolves remain a protected species in Michigan and no hunting or trapping season is in place,â?? said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. â??The DNR will investigate and continue prosecution of any wolf poaching cases.â??

      Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution. Suspected poaching violations may be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the DNRâ??s RAP hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

      According to the DNR, there are 687 wolves in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.