Michigan Wolf Hunt Licenses Sell at Blazing Pace

   09.30.13

Sales of Michigan’s gray wolf hunting licenses began on Saturday, September 28 and have nearly sold out within two days.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering 1,200 hunting licenses to interested sportsmen and women, with a quota of 43 wolves across three Wolf Management Units in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The sale was originally scheduled to begin August 3 but was later pushed back to September 28.

A call to DNR Public Information Officer Ed Golder revealed that as of Monday afternoon, only 60 licenses were left.

“We sold 900 in the first half hour,” Golder said on the phone.

The quick pace of sales spoke to the demand for the licenses, and the long fight it took to approve the wolf hunt.

Forty years ago, only six gray wolves were known to exist in the state. Due to a national recovery program and the efforts of conservationists over several decades, the DNR now estimates there to be over 650 wolves in the Upper Peninsula. The growing population has residents and farmers worried that the animals will encroach into civilization. A spate of attacks on pets and livestock seems to have confirmed these worries, and now some residents are calling for a management hunt to cull wolf numbers.

Legislation passed earlier this year gave more authority to the state’s National Resources Commission (NRC) and allowed the commission to designate game species. The NRC later approved a limited fall wolf hunt.

It is a move that is hotly opposed by animal-rights groups such as Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which together have raised $558,000 in a campaign to stop the season. KMWP is now calling on individual members to gather 43 signatures each in a petition to place a referendum on PA 21, the measure which gave the NRC power to designate game species.

On a national scale, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in June to delist gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species. This would allow state wildlife agencies to re-assume control and management of wolves within their own borders. With the possibility of wolf hunts becoming available across the nation, activists for both sides are making a stand in Michigan. You can read more about the debate here.

The Michigan season will open November 15 and continue through to the end of the year or until the harvest quota is met. Hunters looking to buy a license might still have a chance. Golder explained that even if licenses sell out, some will become available again due to cancellations. The cost of a wolf hunting license is $100 for residents and $500 for nonresidents.

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