SUPERIOR, WISC. --- They are a federally protected species who once trod a landscape marred with fear-killing and total extermination.
Grey wolves -- pack animals whose entire U.S. population once numbered in the hundreds --- are now recognized by 6 states as a recovered species.
However, many landowners and natural resources officials throughout the Midwest are howling about the successful recovery.
They want the Federal Government to relinquish control, and remove wolves from the Federal Endangered Species List.
In Minnesota and Wisconsin —– Michigan too —– experts say Gray or 'timber' wolves have recovered from near extinction in a span of just 30 years.
A 2005 DNR survey reports Minnesota may have a population of up to 3,000 wolves --- the largest concentration in the lower 48 states.
In Wisconsin, the latest aerial surveys indicate a wolf population size of 626 animals.
Michigan wolf populations are estimated at 580 animals.
"The population goal for wolves is about 350 animals, and we are significantly above that," said Tom Hauge, Director of the DNR's Wildlife Program in Wisconsin.
Hauge was speaking at a regional DNR meeting held in Superior just yesterday.
The purpose: to keep Wisconsin's public informed about natural resource issues, and allow commentary from those with praise or concerns.
"Wolves are an emotional issue for many folks here," Hauge says, describing the challenges landowners face when coexisting with an apex predator.
And while dozens of meetings allow Wisconsin residents to voice their opinions on the status of the Grey wolf, what's happening behind the desks of its natural resources administrators may speak louder.
13 states -- including Wisconsin -- and three Canadian provinces have inked a formal resolution asking the federal government for the ability to manage wolves on their terms.
All belong to The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, or MAFWA.
With support from neighboring states like Minnesota and Iowa, Great Lakes States like Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, support in the Dakotas, throughout the prairie states —– and into Canada too --- the new request to de–list has been sent to the Department of the Interior.
Click on the Video Link above to view the rest of the story.
Written for the web by Matt Standal