NRC approves wolf hunt

Harvest limited to 43 wolves in three U.P. areas
Tribune Staff
May 11, 2013


The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) earlier this week approved a limited public wolf harvest in three distinct regions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The decision followed a process of dedicated conversation with the public and experts, along with a thorough review of the pertinent science.

"The recovery of Michigan's wolf population has been a remarkable success story," said Natural Resources Commission Chairman J.R. Richardson. "Today's decision by the NRC supports ongoing scientific management of this game species, just as voters intended when by an overwhelming margin they approved Proposal G in 1996.

“The public harvest proposal approved by the commission ensures the long-term presence of wolves while providing a valuable tool for managing conflicts between wolves and human populations. This is a thoughtful, science-based decision."

The commission adopted the regulations during its regular monthly meeting, held in Roscommon. The regulations establish a limited harvest of 43 wolves in three areas of the Upper Peninsula where wolf-human conflicts — including depredation of livestock and pets and human safety concerns — have been persistent despite employing a number of control measures.

Michigan's wolf population has grown significantly since 2000, with a current minimum population estimate of 658. The target harvest is not expected to impact the overall wolf population trajectory, based on published scientific research.

"This decision was the culmination of a long and thorough process by the NRC," said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Keith Creagh. "The DNR will continue to work closely with the commission to be certain that Michigan's wolf population is managed according to the principles of sound science."

The regulations create three Wolf Management Units (WMU): 

WMU A in Gogebic County in the far western Upper Peninsula — target harvest of 16 wolves;

WMU B in portions of Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties — target harvest of 19 wolves; and

WMU C in portions of Luce and Mackinac counties — target harvest of eight wolves.

The 2013 wolf season will open Nov. 15 and will run until Dec. 31 or until the target harvest for each WMU is reached. The bag limit is one wolf per person per year. Firearm, crossbow and bow-and-arrow hunting and trapping (foothold traps only, with an outside jaw spread of 5.25 inches to 8 inches) will be allowed on public and private lands.



The DNR's own wolf hunt proposal points out that the wolves aren't controlling deer populations, which are dense and sustained or growing, and the reasons for the"harvest" don't really make sense. It depends on wolves creating Disney-like pack traditions over more than a wolf's 6-year lifespan. Avoiding small areas and avoiding looking at people in the eighth of the UP that are the WMUs, where they will be hunted in over a period of years, by removing a small number of wolves at random in the whole management areas. Also, a reduction in population in the areas is supposed to happen, without removing any wolves from outside that can migrate in to fill the gaps made. The "if we kill 5% of the wolves every year for enough years the population is going to be 5% less eventually" theory. That's... just dumb, they know the population won't go down with such a small harvest, and say so outright in the hunt plan.

Much of the areas are supposed to be responding to the 3 or 6 incidents a year where human hunters' dogs being run through wolf territory after bear or bobcat or rabbit are treated by the resident wolves like other wolves invading and howling they own the place, which really they are if wolves can tell dogs are animals that could breed with them. The DNR/NRC idea that wolves can be taught or bred to live in harmony with other wolves in their defended homes is... well, any such packs would instantly be replaced by other more practical wolves defending territory normally, obviously. And it wouldn't be a good idea because wolf numbers would zoom if they were successful. Every wolf would just go off a little ways with a mate and breed instead of one litter to a pack. They wouldn't need packs anymore.

Really, I would say the best control would be - count the wolves each year, and, again, hunt to control any sudden boom in population. To get back to the 950 or so the 687 of two years ago would have grown to next spring, after 3 years at that old 12% growth, this years wolves would have to grow by 45%, they've never done 15% since there were more than a few dozen. Have the US Wildlife Services professionals shoot the problem wolf or wolves when things happen, or when one or a pack looks too bold.


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