Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday Sign of Hope 3/19/06

Gray wolves take a big step

from JSOnline:

The resurgence of the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota was reaffirmed Thursday when Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced plans to remove the wolf from a list of endangered and threatened species.

Removing federal protections of the wolf would give states the management authority over a large predator that was wiped out of Wisconsin in the 1960s.

The changes could go into effect later this year or early in 2007.

In Wisconsin, authorities once again would have the ability to trap and kill wolves that harm livestock and pets.

In some cases, landowners would be able to obtain permits that would allow them to kill depredating wolves.

Another possibility: Wisconsin could open a trapping or hunting season on wolves if the population doesn't remain in check.

But before that happens, "there would have to be extensive public discussion," said Signe Holtz, director of the Bureau of Endangered Species with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Legislation also would be required before hunting or trapping began, she said.

DNR Secretary Scott Hassett said the announcement underscored the comeback of another species in Wisconsin, along with bald eagles, osprey, fisher and wild turkeys, all of which once teetered on extinction.

Last winter, Wisconsin's wolf population was estimated at 425 to 455 wolves. When the 2006 estimate comes out next month, the population could be higher.

Wolves re-entered Wisconsin from northeastern Minnesota in the mid-1970s. Officials credit their return to public acceptance, better management and an abundant food supply - namely, white-tailed deer.


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