John Koski is itching to pick up his rifle after losing dozens of cows to hungry wolves on his farm in Michigan's Upper Peninsula — and it appears he'll soon get his chance.

A legal shield that has protected gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region for nearly four decades has now disappeared, as the animal is no longer on the federal endangered species list. With that milestone, a primal struggle that was waged in this rugged backcountry for more than a century will resume, although in a more restrained fashion.

"It's about time," says Koski, 67, one of many ranchers eager to begin shooting wolves that prey on livestock. Likewise, hunters are pushing for the chance to stalk a foe legendary for its cunning that has long been off-limits.

"There has to be a hunt. We're just saturated with wolves here," says Al Clemens, who already pursues coyotes in the Upper Peninsula backwoods. Opponents of killing wolves for sport promise a stiff fight before state agencies.

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