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Gray Wolf Population Growing in Upper Midwest

Gray Wolf numbers in the Upper Midwest are growing despite more opportunities to hunt the animals.

A recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that gray wolf numbers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are on the rise. Wolf hunting is allowed in Wisconsin and Minnesota but hotly contested in Michigan.

Even with more wolf hunting in the region, the number of gray wolves in the three-state area has grown from 3,678 during 2012-2013 to 3,719 in 2013-2014. 

Minnesota wildlife officials say there are 2,400 within the state’s borders. Minnesota will issue 500 more wolf hunting licenses for this year’s remaining two wolf hunts.

Flickr/Gunnar Ries

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In Wisconsin, officials are getting ready to close a fourth wolf hunting zone after hunters recently exceeded wolf quotas in two hunting zones.

Michigan, which opened their first public wolf hunt in years last winter, will soon decide whether to allow a wolf hunt this season. Hunters and wolf advocates are clashing over a proposed wolf hunt in the state’s Upper Peninsula, where 636 wolves were counted last spring. Michigan voters will decide whether to allow the hunt on an upcoming November ballot.

Wolf advocates say the higher gray wolf numbers in the region are a sign that wolf recovery efforts are working.

“This is excellent news for continued wolf recovery in the Upper Midwest and reassurance that state wolf-management policies are working well,” L. David Mech, founder and vice chairman of the International Wolf Center in Ely, told the Mesabi Daily News.

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Gray Wolf Population Growing in Upper Midwest