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      Group says 240,000 signatures on petition to protect wolves

      A coalition opposed to hunting gray wolves in Michigan says it has gathered more than enough petition signatures to force a statewide referendum on the issue.

      The Legislature approved a bill in December authorizing state wildlife regulators to organize a hunting season in the Upper Peninsula, where the wolf population has reached around 700. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is expected to make a decision as early as May.

      But a group called "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected" says it will present 240,000 signatures Wednesday to the secretary of state's office calling for the law to be repealed.

      If at least 161,305 of the signatures are found to be valid, the law will be put on hold until a statewide vote which would take place during the November 2014 general election.