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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigates wolf killings

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, is investigating 16 incidents of wolves being killed illegally in November and December in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Two wolves were killed in Minnesota, eight were killed in Wisconsin and six were killed in Michigan in the last two months of 2009. It isn’t uncommon to see a spike in the number of wolves killed in the fall, according to Greg Jackson, special agent-in-charge for the Midwest region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Wolf/human encounters are increasing every year and outdoor enthusiasts need to approach these encounters responsibly,” Jackson said. “The law applies to everyone regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the level of protection currently afforded to wolves.”

The two wolves in northern Minnesota were killed in early November. One wolf was shot northwest of Grand Rapids, in the Ball Club area; the second was killed northwest of Two Harbors.  The wolf killed near Two Harbors had been fitted with a radio tracking collar.

In Wisconsin, the eight wolves were killed in late fall in seven counties and on two Native American reservations. Four of the wolves were radio-collared by the Wisconsin DNR.

Six incidents of wolves being killed were reported in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in December. All of were discovered after their radio collars began emitting a mortality signal.

Wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin remain endangered under the Endangered Species Act; in Minnesota, they are considered threatened.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for killing wolves. In addition, non-governmental organizations are also offering rewards. Information may be forwarded to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, law enforcement office. In Minnesota, call the DNR’s TIP line at 1-800-652-9093.