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Michigan DNR says gray wolf killed in Lower Peninsula

A gray wolf.
A gray wolf.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said on Wednesday that a gray wolf was killed by a hunter in January in Calhoun County.

The DNR said the wolf was harvested by a coyote hunter who was on a legal coyote hunt, and believed it to be a large coyote. Genetic tests found that the animal was a gray wolf. The DNR said it weighed 84 pounds.

State officials say the state's known gray wolf population is in the Upper Peninsula. There's an ongoing investigation into how the wolf ended up in the Lower Peninsula.

“There's quite a few details we don't know yet,” said Brian Roell, a large carnivore specialist with the DNR. “It was on social media, and a local biologist from down there actually showed me the pictures in late January,” he said, saying the biologist wanted a second opinion. “I told him, ‘Oh that’s a wolf.’”

Roell said the DNR obtained genetic material for tests at three labs, confirming the animal was a wolf.

Roell said there’s no cause for concern.

“It's more a rarity and a curiosity, people don't need to be afraid that wolves are now establishing themselves in the Lower Peninsula. That's just not the case,” Roell said.

He said gray wolves can venture far outside of their expected range.

“Not only have we had Michigan wolves in the Lower Peninsula in the past, one of our wolves showed up in Missouri one time,” Roell said. “More recently, we had a wolf from the western Upper Peninsula make it all the way to Manitoba, Canada. So it’s not totally unheard of.”

The gray wolf is a federally protected endangered species. The DNR noted it is only legal to kill a gray wolf if it poses a serious and direct threat to humans.

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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