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Wolf populations rising in Midwest May 04, 2005 10:16 AM

Wolf populations rising in Midwest
Minn. tops list with 2,400; Mich., Wis., grew dramatically

Associated Press

HINCKLEY, Minn. - New research shows that wolf numbers are
increasing in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The three states in the upper Midwest have an estimated 3,800 gray
wolves, experts said at a conference in Hinckley last week.

While populations grew in all three states, preliminary data for
Michigan and Wisconsin suggest dramatic change growth in those
states - 14 percent more wolves last winter than a year earlier.

Dean Beyer, wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources, said the preliminary estimate for wolves in the
Upper Peninsula in 2004-05 is 408 animals in 86 packs.

Researchers also found a wolf in Michigan's Lower Peninsula last
year for the first time since 1910. It was fitted with a radio
collar and monitored for several months before a coyote trapper
mistakenly killed it, Beyer said.

Michigan and Wisconsin still have far fewer wolves than Minnesota,
which has an estimated 3,020 of them, up 23 percent since the last
major survey in the winter of 1997-98, said John Erb, wolf biologist
for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Large populations of wildlife are difficult to estimate, so
biologists cannot say how Minnesota's wolf population has grown, or
if it is leveling off. The state's population, while presented as a
single estimate of 3,020, could be between 2,301 and 3,708 animals,
Erb said.

Erb said most of Minnesota's wolves live in about 485 packs
averaging five to six wolves each.

It is possible that more wolves are surviving in the same range
because of the abundant supply there of their main prey. "Just over
the past five years, our deer population was estimated to be 70
percent higher in the overall forested wolf range in Minnesota," Erb

In Wisconsin, the unofficial estimate for this past winter was 425
wolves, 52 more than the previous year, conservation biologist
Adrian Wydeven said.

The main surprise in Wisconsin is that the number of wolf packs -
about 109 - did not increase and that several packs now have seven
to 10 members each, almost twice the typical size, Wydeven said.

The wolf's recovery in the upper Midwest is a major reason the
federal government is seeking to reduce protection of the animals
under the Endangered Species Act. That effort was blocked by a
federal judge in Oregon in January.

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