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Limited public wolf harvest authorized

OUT-Michigan-wolfLast week the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) 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.

Hunters will be required to report successful harvest over the phone on the day of harvest. Once the target harvest is met for a management unit, the entire unit will be closed for the season. Licensed hunters will be required to check daily by phone or online to determine whether any management units have been closed.

Successful hunters must present the carcass to a DNR check station within 72 hours of harvest. DNR staff members will seal the pelt and collect a tooth, female reproductive tracts and harvest location information.

A total of 1,200 licenses will be available for over-the-counter purchase, on a first-come, first-served basis, starting Aug. 3, 2013. Licenses will be valid for all three WMUs until each unit is closed. As established by the Legislature, the cost of a wolf hunting license is $100 for residents and $500 for nonresidents. In order to purchase a license, a hunter is required to have either purchased a previous hunting license or taken a state-approved hunter safety education course.
In developing its recommendations for a public wolf harvest, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists gathered a variety of input and data. Actions by the DNR and the NRC included:

Completing a wolf population survey;

Reviewing documented wolf conflicts and the effectiveness of nonlethal and targeted lethal control measures;

Meeting with the Wolf Management Advisory Council, a diverse group of stakeholders, to discuss a possible wolf harvest aimed at resolving conflicts;

Providing public input opportunities, including four public meetings in March; and

Consulting with tribal governments through four meetings.

The NRC’s Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries presented a recommendation to the full commission that included a review of the experience of other states currently engaged in public wolf harvest and testimony from experts in the field with respect to wolf hunting issues, wolf biology and wolf population matters.

“We anticipate that this limited public harvest could both change wolf behavior over time, making them more wary of people, residential areas and farms, and reduce the abundance of wolves in these management areas that have experienced chronic problems,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “We’re aiming to decrease the number of conflicts and complaints while maintaining the long-term viability of the wolf population.”

In January 2012, wolves in Michigan were removed from the federal list of endangered species. In December 2012, wolves were declared a game species when Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 520 of 2012. State law authorizes the Natural Resources Commission to determine the method and manner of take for all game species in Michigan.
To learn more about the state’s wolf population and Wolf Management Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.

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One Response to “Limited public wolf harvest authorized”

  1. Norm Mackey says:

    Agree or not with the Natural Resource Commission scheduling a fall wolf hunt based on the Department of Natural Resources’ wolf hunt proposal, a the chance to participate in any such hunt should be equal for resident hunters and fairly distributed. Many will agree the NRC should not change the DNR’s scientific proposal tp prevent achieving the proposed goals.

    The NRC made a dubious choice to offer 1200 wolf licenses “over the counter, first come, first served” starting August 3. The accepted way to allocate scarce chances at game, such as elk, is Michigan’s in place, tested, and, according to reviews, fair way of distributing these. A nonrefundable application ($4 for elk, proposed $4 for wolf). Hunters win licenses by drawing, those losing get “preference points” and much better chances with each new drawing. Nonresidents are limited to 2% of bear licenses, as proposed by the DNR for wolves, and they cannot hunt elk at all.

    Why not that for wolves – which was the other DNR alternative? Why throw away the additional revenue of the lottery-type drawing, the chance for those failing to get a license to accumulate a first preference point, and the opportunity for multitudes of hunters to show their enthusiasm for the wolf hunt by even being able to enter?

    It makes it appear influential out-of-state trophy hunting groups and promoters of wolf hunting, working behind the scenes and through local affiliates, influenced the NRC for a first crack at the hunt and much better chances for them to take licenses away from Michigan hunters than with a fair drawing limited to 2% nonresidents. The wolf hunt which was itself rushed into place with claims it was to prevent out of state special interest groups from having excessive influence.

    With an extra 2 months after bear and elk seasons start until the wolf season, why not simply update the E-license system for wolves too? No rush for over the counter pieces of paper. No appearance of evil influence by outsiders.

    The second problem: the DNR proposed wolf trapping only on private land, to cause wolves to avoid human areas and animal property. The NRC bluntly overrode this allowing trapping on a much larger area of public land. Their stated rationale was that Minnesota and Wisconsin trappers were successful trapping wolves on public lands as well as private.

    The NRC “forgot” the hunt’s goal is not creating a very successful recreational or commercial wolf trapping industry, but to control specific problems, problems not helped by killing a wolf a concealed trap where it is really supposed to be. Worse, the NRC cares so much for trapping, which more efficient than hunting, could take the majority of the 43 wolf quota from public lands alone, that they are willing to throw away half or more of the hunt’s effects ostensibly protecting residents.

    Not trapping wolves on public lands will not prevent them being taken by hunters that may also frighten the packs, or by traps on private land it is desired wolves avoid. Nor would fewer wolves be taken in total, just in ways and places where, by the DNR’s theory, it might do some good.

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