There are around 600 gray wolves roaming the U.P. woods. That's the latest estimate from the Department of Natural Resources. Nationally, the gray wolf is an endangered species, but in the U.P., its population is growing at a steady rate.
"And so in this case, the populations have expanded past the numeric recovery goals. And we have pursued, attempted to de-list the wolf several times," explained Christie Deloria-Sheffield of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Delisting the wolf means taking it off the Federal Endangered Species List. And that would put control of the gray wolf it in the hands of the DNR.
"So Federal Government basically at that point steps away, and we monitor the wolf population for five years after it's delisted. But once that's done, we completely are out of the picture, and the state is the one that then takes over the management," said Deloria-Sheffield.
And that's likely to happen. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service plans to continue their efforts to delist the animal.
UpperMichigansSource.com was flooded with traffic from last week's story of Dan Perry and his pup, Lilo. Well over 200 people commented, and well over 2,000 voted in the poll. A lot of our commenters wonder if the woods are still safe.
"Well killing dogs is something that wolves do. And they've always done it, and they will continue to do it because they view dogs as a competitor. And particularly barking, hunting dogs are so easy to find and easy to get rid of," explained Dr. Rolf Peterson, Research Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Michigan Tech University. "Killing a dog is very different from harming a person. Wolves know the difference. No, I don't regard the woods as an unsafe place."
Dr. Peterson says that even though the U.P. wolf population has been on a steady climb for the past two decades, it's going to level off. In fact, we're right where we should be: "Six hundred to 1200 wolves in the U.P. We're at 600 now, so I would expect them to keep going up for awhile...but not forever."