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.