LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan House has taken a step toward allowing recently-endangered gray wolves to be hunted.

A bill designating wolves as a game species was approved Thursday on a vote of 66-43. The Senate approved the measure in November and will consider a minor House amendment before sending the bill to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

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Wolves were removed from the endangered list earlier this year after rebounding from near-extinction in the upper Great Lakes region. About 700 are believed to live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Supporters of the bill say it’s time to allow hunters and trappers to thin the population. They say wolves are killing livestock and venturing too close to towns.

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Opponents say wolves are still recovering and it’s too soon for a hunt.  Wolf advocates who accepted the idea of farmers protecting livestock, which is already allowed, recoil at talk of hunting and trapping — which they fear will slash wolf numbers drastically.

The Humane Society of the United States has said it may sue to restore federal protections.

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