In this February 2008 photo gray wolves howl at an exhibit area at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn. After devoting four decades and tens of millions of dollars to saving gray wolves, the federal government wants to get out of the wolf recovery business and leave it to individual states _ and the wolves themselves _ to determine their future. The Obama administration says it will decide by year's end whether to lift restrictions in the upper Great Lakes and 29 Eastern states. (AP Photo/John Flesher)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Ranchers in the western Great Lakes region are eager to take up arms against a longtime enemy: wolves.
The gray wolf comes off the federal endangered species list Friday in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, where the combined population is 4,400.
Wolves have rebounded strongly there after being hunted to near-extinction. They gained federal protection in 1974.
The three states will allow farmers to shoot wolves caught preying on livestock. They'll also consider establishing hunting seasons. Minnesota may have a hunt this fall in which 400 wolves would be killed.
Ranchers say they're glad for the opportunity to defend their animals. Wolf advocates say that's understandable, but they'll oppose hunting wolves for sport.