A photo of a man holding a wolf nearly his size after it was struck by a car and killed last month has got people talking, garnering more than 3,500 shares and 800 comments on Facebook. Not just because it's a powerful image, but because it's drawing out strong feelings at a moment when wolves' future is at a crossroads.

The wolf reportedly weighed around 100 pounds and was healthy. It was killed on a road near Watersmeet, a town on the western side of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

100 pound wolf michigan photo

Michigan Whitetail Pursuit / Facebook

While the wolf's death appears to be an unfortunate accident, it comes at a time when animal activists across Michigan and outside the state are focusing their efforts on protecting the state's wolves. Fewer than two years after the state's wolves were removed from the endangered species list, a new law allowing hunting of wolves may go into effect. Approved by Gov. Rick Snyder in December, the final decision will come from the Natural Resources Commission, which is beginning a survey of the population, according to NBC 25.

Several states have recently allowed wolf-hunting, which were on track to extinction several decades ago. The population has increased under federal protection. Michigan now has about 700 wolves, according to the Lansing State Journal, up from six in 1973 when protection efforts began.

Activists are collecting signatures on a petition to put a referendum of the hunting law on the 2014 ballot. They need a total of 161,300 signatures to certify it, according to the Free Press.

According to MLive, the Humane Society of the United States is involved with the coalition organizing the petition, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. The former organization's President and CEO Wayne Pacelle told the news site the state's wolf population is only now starting to recover.

“It’s not right to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction only to turn around and allow them to be killed for sport,” he said.

Proponents of the legislation cite problems with wolves killing livestock. Though they can be difficult to catch, it is currently legal to kill wolves to protect livestock, according to the Soo Evening News.

Department of Natural Resources officer Dave Painter, who is shown holding the animal, was called to the scene. The Iron County Reporter said the the hide will be preserved and displayed by the Lac Vieux Desert Tribe, while the carcass will undergo a necropsy downstate.

The photo was posted on the Facebook page of Michigan Whitetail Pursuit, a group of "hunters with a passion for pursuing Whitetails primarily with a bow," according to their bio.

Hat tip: Michigan Radio.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Cheetah Cubs

    Three cheetah cubs, born in November 2004, lean against their mother during a preview showing at the National Zoo in February 2005 in Washington D.C. Today there are just 12,400 cheetahs remaining in the wild, with the biggest population, totaling 2,500 living in Namibia.

  • Baby Black Rhino

    A baby Black Rhinoceros stands in front of its mother in an enclosure at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo in June 2009. The Black Rhinoceros is a critically endangered species, according to the International Rhino Foundation there are less than 5,000 surviving in the world.

  • Orangutans

    An orangutan infant at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia, on February 15, 2007. Orangutans are threatened by deforestation and hunting. Click here for more orangutan photos.

  • Koala

    A baby joey koala at Sydney's Wildlife World. Though koalas are Australia's most iconic and adored marsupials, they are under threat due to a shortage of suitable habitat from mass land clearance.

  • Gorilla Mother And Son

    A 15-year-old female mountain gorilla holds her five month old son at the Kahuzi Biega Nature Park in Democratic Republic of Congo in May 2004. Only 700 mountain gorillas are left in the world, and over half live in central Africa.

  • African Penguins

    A group of African penguins gather near a pond at a conservation site in Cape Town, South Africa. Birdlife International say the African penguin is edging closer to extinction.

  • Endangered Tiger Cubs

    A Trio of 45 day-old Bengal white tiger cubs were born in December 2007 At the Buenos Aires Zoo. With only 240 white tigers living in the world, their birth gave a boost to the animals' endangered population.

  • South Korea's Black Bears

    A pair of black bears sit at a zoo in Kwacheon, South Korea in November 2001. Black bears have been on the endangered species list since 2007.

  • Madagascar Lemur

    A newly born Madagascar Lemur, an endangered species, at Besancon Zoo in France. There are only 17 living in captivity worldwide.

  • Red Pandas

    Two-month-old twin Red Panda cubs make their debut at Taronga Zoo in March 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The cubs were born out of an international breeding program for endangered species.

  • Lin Hui

    China's panda is one of the world's most beloved but endangered animals. Lin Hui, a female Panda- on a ten-year loan from China - eats bamboo at Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand in Sept 2005. Captive pandas are notoriously poor breeders.

  • South East Asian Monkey

    The Sydney's Taronga Zoo is home for this bright orange male infant monkey. This South East Asian monkey is highly endangered.

  • Night Monkey

    A grey-bellied Night Monkey born in captivity climbs onto his mother's arms at the Santa Fe Zoo, in Medellin, Colombia. The Night Monkey is an endangered species.

  • Tigers

    A six-month-old male Sumatran tiger cub rests under his mother careful watch at the National Zoo in Washington in October 2004. Sumatran tigers are endangered; fewer than 500 are believed to exist in the wild and 210 animals live in zoos around the world.

  • Elephants

    A baby elephant is pictured at the Singapore Zoo on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. Many elephants are threatened by habitat loss and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

  • Polar Bears

    A sow polar bear rests with her cubs on the pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in Alaska. In 2008, the U.S. government described polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Due to dangerous declines in ice habit, polar bears are at risk of becoming endangered.