Michigan Senate takes step toward allowing wolf hunts

An estimated 700 wolves roam Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Dec 1, 2012


Michigan moved a step closer to letting hunters target gray wolves Thursday, when the state Senate voted to designate the predator as a game species.

The bill was approved on a 23-15 vote and sent to the House, where a similar measure is pending. It doesn’t guarantee that wolf hunts will be allowed but authorizes the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, whose seven members are appointed by the governor, to establish seasons.

Wolves were shot, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in the lower 48 states in the last century but have rebounded in the Upper Midwest and Northern Rockies since receiving protection under federal and state law. About 700 wolves roam Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and a few may have made their way to the northern Lower Peninsula, wildlife biologists say.

The first members of Michigan’s resurgent wolf population are believed to have migrated to the Upper Peninsula from Minnesota and Wisconsin, both of which have recreational hunts this fall. Minnesota officials want to reduce their estimated population of 2,900 wolves by 400, while Wisconsin’s goal is to kill 116 of its more than 800 wolves.

Sen. Tom Casperson, an Escanaba Republican and chairman of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy Committee, said wolf numbers are getting out of hand in parts of the Upper Peninsula, where they’re drawing complaints from people whose livestock and pets have been killed.

“We’ve got them casually walking right into the city of Ironwood,” Casperson told reporters. “The western U.P. is suffering.”

Environmental groups and Indian tribes contend more time is needed to make sure the population is secure before hunting is permitted. Upper Great Lakes wolves were dropped from the federal endangered species list in January, with management responsibility shifting to the states.

“They’re part of our creation story, and they’re also one of those cultural indicators that are inherent in our teachings,” said Jimmie Mitchell, natural resources director for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Gray wolves are intelligent, social animals, not game animals. Members of extended families depending on each other for everything from food to wisdom to pack birth control. They are the animal ancient man was fated to domesticate first because nearly all tamed unconfined ones and naturally wary wild ones could be trusted near children they were guarding.

Before about 10,000 years ago, predators included cave lions, sabertoothed cats, cave and short-faced bears, and packs of big dire wolves, all likely also raising and feeding young while gray wolves denned. Think. Only an idiot would put his dwelling anywhere but in view of a gray wolf den, and inside the defense perimeter of the wolves' superb senses. Unfed and undomesticated, but literally watched, wolves could still guard, alert, and benefit when humans with spears killed the mutual predatory threat. Then we turned the animal into the still potentially deadly predator we trust with our children.

To a Prehistoric man very worried about any of the other dangerous Pleistocene fauna being near, seeing a mere gray wolf stop for a moment for a curious look at them, unconcerned and unafraid of anything else around, must have been the biggest relief in the world. There is nothing unnatural about wolves simply being wolves while very near humans.

Some animals, like bottlenose dolphins and chimpanzees and bald eagles, aren't hunted simply because of human sensibilities, and we don't eat dogs or wear or display dog fur as a "trophy" rug, unless it is from a wolf. We don't claim managing domesticated dogs demands allowing dogfighting with the state taking a share of profits.

What it that makes some people so insistent wolves be a game animal? Wolf packs have no more spares to give up than a human family has spare members. That trophy pelt/rug means a set of other wolves have to struggle on without the lost one's contributions, and experience despair, grief, and the added toil of fewer to hunt for the pups and defend the pack. Dogs remember their lost ones for longer than a wolf's short life in the wild, so that "trophy" is likely a loss they will mourn for the rest of their lives.

I can't see it as anything but the epitome of bad taste, it shows that it happened and may still be affecting other wolves no matter how the hunter feels about it. Should one try to educate someone, who probably does not want to be educated to the fact that they are tormenting still-living animals they probably have never seen, and cannot undo it even if they wanted to - because they are less gods than they are pretending to be?

Sometimes they even get upset when someone else listens and learns. These people need help, not enabling


Let us all become friends with the wolves and dance merrily under a full moon, feasting on the tastier creatures mother nature has provide...If all else fails you do not necessarily need to be the fasted out of the woods...as long as you are not the slowest...


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