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      Proposed wolf hunt draws cheers, criticism

      Controversy continues to surround a proposed bill legalizing Grey Wolf hunting in Michigan. Republican State Representative Matt Huuki proposed the bill August 15.

      In January, the federal government removed the Grey Wolf from the endangered species list.

      As of now, Wisconsin and Minnesota have legalized Grey Wolf hunting, but here in Michigan, some question the necessity of making the wolf a game species.

      Keith Creagh, newly appointed director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, has announced his support for the proposal. Creagh says the hunt is one way to reduce the number of destroyed livestock, otherwise known as depredation.

      "History shows us if you make a species a game species, that actually allows for a more effective management of that species," said Creagh.

      According to Creagh, Michigan's approach to approving a wolf hunt will have a scientific basis.

      "We'll work with the legislature to identify wolves as a game species," Creagh said. "But it's a Natural Resources Commission that actually, because of Proposal G, does a scientific management along with the department, so ours will be different than Wisconsin's and we'll be more targeted and focused."

      If and when the proposal is approved by the state legislature, the DNR will set guidelines for hunting the species.

      A DNR study last year revealed less than 700 wolves live in the U.P., a number that worries some conservationists like Nancy Warren.

      "First, I think this legislation is being driven by fear and misunderstanding," said Warren. Warren is the Great Lakes Director of the National Wolf Watcher Coalition, and she, along with other researches, provided recommendations included in the DNR's Wolf Management Plan issued in 2010.

      Warren says hunting the animals may backfire, based on DNR statistics that show only four instances of verified depredation events caused by wolves in 2012.

      "If now we start killing these wolves that have not caused depredation, then you could potentially cause an increase in depredation because of disruption in a pack," Warren explained.

      For her part, Warren says she will continue to educate the public on wolves. She's holding an informational session at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette on September 4. Meantime, the bill is currently in the Natural Resources Committee with no date set for when it will be considered.