LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A Michigan commission now has the authority to establish hunting seasons for the gray wolf under a law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The Natural Resources Commission is expected to get an update on the once-imperiled species in January.
The number of wolves in Michigan is about 700 and has grown since the federal government outlawed killing wolves four decades ago to keep them from going extinct in the lower 48 states.
The law signed Friday authorizes the creation of a wolf hunting season and sets license fees. But the decision on whether and when to have a hunting season is left to the commission.
Wolves were removed from the endangered list in early 2012 after rebounding from near-extinction in the upper Great Lakes region.
Supporters of the bill say it's time to allow hunters and trappers to thin the population. They say wolves are killing livestock and venturing too close to towns.
Opponents say wolves are still recovering and it's too soon for a hunt. Wolf advocates who accepted the idea of farmers protecting livestock, which is already allowed, recoil at talk of hunting and trapping — which they fear will slash wolf numbers drastically.
An informal poll at CBSDetroit.com showed 77 percent of respondents were opposed to wolf hunting. "I don't see the point in hunting wolves ... I'm not opposed to hunting but people don't generally eat wolves and the population is still recovering so what's the point? It's wasteful to kill an animal just to kill it," commented website visitor Rei Lee.
The Humane Society of the United States has said it may sue to restore federal protections.
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