Once again wildlife officials are out on rumor patrol, putting to rest speculation that a massive gray wolf had been harvested in Michigan. This image of a hunter and a very large wolf appeared recently on social media along with the description that it had been taken near Clare, Michigan. Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) debunked those rumors on Thursday.
“We’re aware of a photo making its way around social media channels claiming to be a wolf shot and killed near Clare, Michigan,” the DNR stated. “The photo was actually taken at a game ranch in Canada. We appreciate people bringing this to our attention. Because this photo does not depict a Michigan wolf, we ask that people refrain from reporting this photo to the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline. It’s great to have outdoor enthusiasts doing their best to notify us of possible illegal activity, but we’d like to free up our hotline phones for reports of poaching, hunter harassment or other violations, especially as we approach the start of the firearm deer season.”
Wolf hunting is a controversial issue in Michigan, especially after the state held its first wolf hunting season in 2014. Last December, a federal court ruling returned the state’s wolf population back to the endangered species list—along with wolves in Minnesota, Wyoming, and Wisconsin.
“The federal court decision is surprising and disappointing,” Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division Chief, said at the time. “Wolves in Michigan have exceeded recovery goals for 15 years and have no business being on the endangered species list, which is designed to help fragile populations recover—not to halt the use of effective wildlife management techniques.”
Although the DNR protested the decision, the state is required to halt wolf hunting until the species is once again off the list. Therefore, the harvest of such a massive wolf in Michigan would not only be shocking, but possibly illegal as well. Several lawmakers are currently working to overturn the federal court decision, including Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) who recently introduced a bill to remove the wolf from the endangered species list for the Great Lakes region and prevent federal courts from putting it back on the list.
Image from Twitter