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Outdoors Roundup: DNR head says no to returning grey wolves to endangered species list

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MADISON - The head of Wisconsin's DNR says it would be in nobody's best interest to return grey wolves to the federal endangered species list. That's how Cathy Stepp responded yesterday, after the U.S. Humane Society and several other animal rights' groups filed a federal lawsuit to restore federal protections for Upper Midwest wolves.

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The Humane Society took strong exception to the wolf hunts which occurred last year in Wisconsin and Minnesota, saying they threatened to make the species extinct. That was after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the endangered status for the region's grey wolves, saying the populations had grown enough to let states manage their herds as they saw fit. The wildlife agency said yesterday it was only following the law. That agency and the Interior Department are defendants in the new lawsuit. Stepp said Wisconsin must keep its authority to employ tools like wolf hunts, when populations peak like they've done over the past year. In Stepp's words, "Increased conflicts with domestic livestock and pets benefit neither humans nor wolves." Wolf attacks on livestock and farm crops are why the state adopted a wolf hunt in the first place.

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A Wisconsin whooping crane is back in the wild, after having one of its toes amputated due to an injury. The baby crane was among a dozen that flew last fall from the Badger State to a pair of refuges in Florida, as part of a 12-year-old effort to boost the population of the endangered bird in the eastern U-S. According to the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, somebody saw a crane limping on the outskirts of North Miami early last month. The bird was captured in late January and taken to Disney's Animal Kingdom, where veterinarians amputated its right middle toe. The crane was then taken to a national refuge in Meigs County Tennessee to be re-connected with a number of birds, including sandhill cranes. The baby was released last Saturday. The Eastern Partnership said it was the first time in the 12 years of the migration program that an injured bird could re-join other nesting animals after treatment. The whooper was part of a group of six that left Horicon, and flew to a reserve in Florida's Everglades - the farthest south that Wisconsin cranes had flown in the program. Over 110 cranes still take part in the migration effort. The veterans reach Florida on their own, after being guided in their first years.

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