By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Over a hundred years ago, gray wolves roamed North America from Maine to California. With numbers likely in the hundreds of thousands, the top predator had a large impact on its surroundings, from controlling deer population to altering the behavior of other species such as coyotes. But during the 1800s and 1900s, this keystone species began to clash with another predator — the humans who increasingly inhabited the land. People significantly reduced wolf populations as they competed for food and threatened livestock, according to Leah Knapp, an ecologist and professor at Olivet College. It’s a clash that particularly resonates today, as politicians, activists and hunters fuel heated debates on the current state of the species’ endangered status.