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Illinois preps for possibility of wolf population

By By MICHAEL TARM

CHICAGO (AP) — A modest but perceptible uptick in the number of wolves roaming in from Wisconsin has forced Illinois to begin considering the possibility that permanent wolf populations could take hold.

Illinois' wolves were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. But since a first confirmed sighting in 2002, wolf sightings have gone from rare to regular. There have been at least five the last three years.

Nearly all are thought to have come from Wisconsin, which has more than 800 wolves.

Joe Kath is the endangered species manager at Illinois' Department of Natural Resources. He says that if wolves establish themselves in Illinois, it'll be years from now.

But he told The Associated Press that department officials have already begun drafting plans on how to manage wolves should they become established.

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