House Bill 5834 will undoubtedly become a hot issue in Michigan, just as other pieces of legislation dealing with wolf hunting have in neighboring states.

On August 15 state Rep. Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine) introduced the bill, which calls to add the gray wolf to the list of game species and to authorize a hunting season. The hunt is supported by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The text of the legislation states, “the sound scientific management of gray wolf populations in this state is necessary, including the use of hunting as a management tool, to minimize human and gray wolf encounters and to prevent gray wolves from threatening or harming humans, livestock and pets.”

There has been a Wolf Management Plan (pdf) in place since 2008 to minimize wolf-related conflicts and to conduct science-based wolf management, among other purposes. Under the plan, the state of Michigan may cull a certain number of problem, or nuisance, wolves per year. Those that prey on farmers’ livestock, for instance, may be removed with the aid of Wildlife Services.

One thing the plan does not include is a consensus on hunting the animal.

The gray wolf was delisted from the federal endangered species list in January 2012, but up to this time, it remains a protected non-game species in Michigan.

In the week that the legislation was proposed, DNR Director Keith Creagh visited Upper Peninsula farmers who often face wolf depredation. He said that although the Wolf Management Plan did not come to a consensus on hunting the animal, it did concede that there was going to have to be a control method in place for when the wolves become a nuisance.

“At the end of the day, there’s going to be a method of take and it’s the DNR’s opinion that you ought to be able to utilize hunters to help with depredation complaints in nuisance areas,” Creagh said to the Mining Journal.

It will be up to the Natural Resources Commission and the DNR to determine the method of take if the wolf hunting bill passes. The agencies would establish hunting seasons, harvest methods, bad limits and other specifications. Huuki’s bill proposes a $100 license fee for residents, $500 for non-residents and a $4 non-refundable permit application fee.

Image from Ellie Attebery/OnyxDog86 on the flickr Creative Commons

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4 thoughts on “Michigan State Representative Proposes Wolf Hunt

  1. C’mon, aren’t we better than this?
    I can’t claim to currently be a Michiganian. This is a direct result of Michigan banning dogs that were part wolf, not that I disagree with that in the general sense, but in my specific case I had 10 years of dog I simply did not want to dispose of and could not afford the insurance, penning requirements, et cetra even a “grandfathered in” wolfdog was subject to, so another state was in order. Earlier:
    I was buying Michigan deer tags and small game licenses the year that the first modern Pigeon River elk season was started. The hunt seemed like a good idea to me after studying the elk problems.
    But then I read a report that at the DNR public meeting announcing the season, a representative said hunters with high-powered rifles were safer than wolves and grizzly bears as a solution. This pushed some buttons in me.
    What statistics I knew said dividing by zero unprovoked eastern timber wolf attacks on humans made the comparison invalid, but didn’t mean firearms accident rates were lower. Conflating grizzly aggression with the shy wolves made no sense. There were other good reasons for not using predators for the job. They would have avoided the elk that needed management in that area in favor of nearby abundant deer habitat, for one. Whereas hunting game management was ideal to preserve the area and keep the elk healthy. The only wolves in the state were on Isle Royale. Wolves were protected by state and federal endangered species laws. But there were none on the mainland. They weren’t there any more (a UP state legislator also wanted to reject bald eagles’ repopulating because they had returned from Wisconsin and Canada, they were not Michigan origin eagles).
    So, it seemed to me that this statement – if accurate at all – was an unnecessary cheap shot at wolves, from the agency that was supposed to be protecting them. Sure it was in support of a good cause, the elk hunt, but I felt it was poor public relations and I drove to Lansing and complained. Please don’t do that I said, besides it doesn’t make you look smarter, instead educate on how game management is good for the elk sex ratios and that wolves would head for the abundant deer and be useless.
    Remember those carpetbagging eagles? At the time, preservationists were doing their best- a pretty good job – to, besides eagles, use wolves as an excuse to greatly expand a hold on wilderness acreage. This was supposed to be “wolf habitat”. Any humans within 20 miles and they’ll move their den! On the opposite side of the “conservationists” were the actual users of the land. Those who actually went out, the hunters, the fishermen. The campaign was to cut people off from the land, destroy the roads, let it… sit. No wonder eagles in the county scared them. So did protecting “wolf habitat”. The idealized paradise was uncut, climax forest. A place where you could see all the widely spaced big majestic trees, little or no deer forage, little other wildlife, except red squirrels and porcupines. A biological near-desert, in terms of variety of species and animal biomass.
    But in a publication of an organization called the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, which I saw as the sane voice in the matter, I followed the eventual success, no they didn’t close all the roads. They kept on making game habitat. At the time, I also read defenses of hunters accused of killing all the wolves that said no, it is a “lack of habitat” that endangers species. Uh oh. They’re giving ammunition to the enemy, basically, of conservation and wildlife. Didn’t make sense to me. The dang eagles were building their nests where they weren’t supposed to, people whose presence was ignored by the birds moving in were told they shouldn’t use their nearby property, The loudest sound in the world, Apollo spacecraft launch, didn’t faze “shy” birds. And the only way that general game habitat was not ideal for wolves was that people killed them, so the MUCC shouldn’t say it was a lack of habitat – that implied hunters were killing them. Other endangered species aside, I had read Italian wolves were scavenging leftover spaghetti from city dumps, and when caught in town in daylight, just hid under a bush until sundown. Wolves live in a variety of habitats. Believe it or not, that was controversial at the time.
    I tried to express this to those at the publication and/or MUCC, I do not recall if anything was printed or I had any brief answers. I may have recommended it just be read. But I tried to point out how much more important it was to express that past society and ignorance exterminated wolves. Instead of providing the “lack of wolf habitat” excuse, note that sportsmen – hunters, trappers – were no longer killing wolves and that the rich game habitat they deserved credit for keeping up was what any future wolves might need, someday. I think I stopped seeing the lapse.
    I didn’t want to see the deer population of the UP lose habitat. Because I knew this meant wolves losing it. I had a nightmare vision of a huge chunk of the Upper Peninsula with tree trunks and canopy above the browsing level of cervids, and a dozen wolves scraping by on, again, the red squirrels and mice, and that’s all. Maybe they’d put up a fence 15 miles on a side and call it a new Isle Royale, and only let a few people in.
    Better, I thought, maybe some wolves would eventually migrate in, and hide in the Delirium Wilderness long enough to become a novelty, or something. At least make their poacher pay with mosquito bites.
    Then – some years later when there were probably no wolves most of the time, wolves began returning. They didn’t give people a choice, not if they didn’t have to. They had learned Monty Python’s How Not to be Seen. And the peninsula was lushing up as game habitat. Not fewer people, but changes in the way the land was being used, as certain as the changes in the Great Lakes people feared so much, the plagues of dead prolific alewives that turned out to feed game fish so well, the “dead” Lake Erie that mysteriously had the biggest smelt fishery in the world as tasty zombies, a great clearing of the water by mussels, which Mother Nature will deal with and feed to something, or human ingenuity will make use of.
    The changes benefiting the peninsula were part natural, part man’s works used by wildlife abounding and paid for largely by hunting and fishing licenses and taxes on sporting goods. Not enough paid for by others in my view, because sportsmen fear that game management will fall out of their space. Understood. Among those changes were the wolves that kept living, and having little wolves, and defending their territories. From coyotes, other wolves, and unfortunately occasionally dogs whose scents must tell “wolf, or certainly carnivore” to other wolves. Not that often really, or they would have been seen more. And eating a few livestock mostly meant for human consumption, along with of course, deer, and some beaver and hare less likely to be missed by anyone.
    I won’t disagree with a need to remove problem wolves, even reduce local populations. The Draft Wolf Management plan still exists, people can now use deadly force against wolves that might attack their livestock, pets, or selves, and have problems “removed”. But the vast majority of wolves will leave people alone. Because they can, that is how they’ve survived. Now the more so without endangered protections, just as protected wildlife. It takes a twisted logic to conclude that random hunting of wolves will solve problems as well as a logical strategy of removing obviously problem individual wolves or wolf packs, and when really needed reducing the wolf population by locating and removing whole, specifically smallest packs first.
    I suspect that sport hunting will not be able to achieve this. If a hunt is implemented, face it. Making the wolf a game animal in Michigan along with Minnesota and Wisconsin will guarantee that nowhere in the Eastern Timber Wolf’s range will there be serious attempts at other methods of management besides population reductions by sport hunting. Quite disingenuious; once in place, the wolves can do no right. If they cause fewer problems the hunt supporters will claim credit. More hunting needed! If the disruption of packs and the higher reproduction rate that will result mean worse problems, well, obviously, more hunting needed to alleviate! If a third of the wolves die from canine influenza caught from dogs, it was caused by the population being too dense. More hunting needed… um Ok, just the same quota this year, but the population must never as nearly get out of control again! For their own good!
    Mainly, the alternative management methods should be attempted. As Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh was quoted, “There was a broad-based Wolf Management Plan put together by a comprehensive set of scientists and stakeholders that actually has a thoughtful and deliberate plan to manage wolves”. We still have it, last updates 2008, why is he referring to it in the past tense? Use it first, instead of adding a scattergun to the tool box – undirected hunting could not be better designed to break up wolf packs, a population reduction that will result in an unhealthy increase in reproduction rates. Only pairs of wolves are known to whelp young even as yearlings – you think they won’t? These wolves? The reduction in food budget per adult wolf is extreme in a large pack with only one litter, as anyone who has raised a puppy to full size can realize. Each more than letting an extra pack member survive.
    So, whence a $4 application/$100 fee type season, a lottery of hunters that well, will end up having killed a random wolf in some quotaed zone, by whatever methods the DNR chooses to allow, having to kill more or kill pups next season for the privilege.
    I’ve watched the state’s wolf population grow as I never imagined I would in my lifetime since I complained about a bill analysis that said wolves could not be added to the list of wildlife for which the state got restitution, which was being amended, because they were not game animals. Pointed out the same law included eagles, got them to admit it wouldn’t take a separate bill. Gray wolves were added, $1000 to the state for MDNR expenses, whee. It was neat even though I knew I would never see a wolf population in the Upper Peninsula in my life. As I was advised would probably be the case by the DNR official I spoke to about the elk season stupidity at the start.
    Since then I have been amazed at the performance of Michigan’s sportsmen. The restraint from past rather savage and inhumane behavior, was more than refreshing. and frankly I am flabbergasted to see this proposal.
    The state’s sportsmen have built so much credibility with this species in the last decades, and now you have the opportunity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Come on. What’s the antonym for greedy? benevolent, charitable, generous, philanthropic… it isn’t going to be one of those used describing putting bullets into a canine for sport. There will be pictures. Heck, there probably will be private drones. Bowhunting? I can see it. “I tried to save a wounded wolf” and pictures of that. Spare your sport?
    Come on, let us not use this one single species that people will suspect may be a lot like a dog as a target. Spend your wolves now, as they should be spent. Spend them on something really nice. Buy a mourning dove season in the polls for all the nice hunters who have saved the wolves. And you did. When the approved dove hunt causes no lack of doves, use the wolves for something again, they’ll be refunded.
    Hunters might even be able, gingerly, to claim needed funds to match or add to license fees and sport equipment taxes. Using this to expand the deer herd with forage improvements will not make wolves eat livestock, nor would a little more help to pay farmers for produce that inadvertently fattens the deer herd. Yes, side effects will occur, as many as can be paid for to fix.
    On the other hand, the enterprising trapper or other who can remove the problem wolf or pack and leave the rest unharmed will be able to write his own ticket. The pro who saves the day (or the dog), gets admired for his skill. He’s an animal control expert. Sort of a beekeeper. He gets to claim credit for saving all those other inoffensive wolves that these would get in trouble. Or, when population reductions may have to occur, for taking the small pack(s) and leaving the nonbreeding members of a large one; sad but people will understand the need.
    But not making wolves game animals. Please God, let my decades be telling me the truth. We’re better than this?

    1. living in michigan the wolves are getting bold. if you like them showing up at your childs elementary school playground. or you have to fork over 1200 dollars for damages that they did to your livestock. and your family has to do without. then you take them all in this is just some of the past incidents we have here i am not a tree hugger but i will not become wolf food or allow my family to for that matter. yes we need a balance.we just need to come to an agreement on the balance part

      1. If wolves are lingering near humans, they may have been habituated, you should call the DNR and have them removed.

        You can of course now legally kill any wolf attacking livestock or pets.

      2. Apologies, I was under the impression that there were real problems with wolves this year in Michigan, of some sort.

        But now I find on the DNR site is a count of verified depredation incidents. Apparently this year there were – 4. Yep, count-em-on-one-hand-no-thumb, four.

        From about 700 apparently *very* well-behaved wolves.

        That is 0.00571 offenses per wolf.
        Sorry, given the documentation I would need to see more proof of the incidents. The DNR’s response to your request for compensation, for example.

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