Mich. official hails delisting of wolves

Dec. 23, 2011 at 1:57 AM

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The removal of gray wolves from the U.S endangered species list means Michigan can devote more resources to less glamorous animals, wildlife officials say.

This includes Michigan's only venomous snake, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

Russ Mason, head of the wildlife division of the state department of natural resources, said the delisting of wolves, announced Wednesday, is a "great victory for the state of Michigan and long overdue." He said wildlife agents had been spending "an inordinate amount of time" on the estimated 687 wolves living in the Upper Peninsula.

The massasauga is a small snake, growing no more than 30 inches long, with a bite more likely to be painful than lethal. But Nate Fuller of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy said the snake can be an important indicator of environmental health.

This summer, workers on a project aimed at studying and protecting habitat for the snakes and the Mitchell's satyr butterfly found a young snake.

"Finding a baby snake counts as three -- since it takes two to make more," Fuller said. "And more importantly, breeding rattlesnakes are good indicators of high quality wetlands which do so much for Michigan's water."

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