Michigan's inaugural wolf hunt not justified
To the Editor:
Last week Adam Bump, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, claimed 17 of the 23 wolves killed during last fall’s wolf hunt happened in places within known territories of packs repeatedly attacking livestock or pets and exhibiting fearless behavior around people. Once again, the DNR has stretched the facts.
Data released this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that no wolves were killed near either of the two farms in the U.P. with the greatest livestock losses to wolves.
Most wolves killed during the hunt were far from any perceived or actual threats to humans, including a male and female wolf killed just outside the boundary of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The female was a collared research animal.
Another collared wolf was killed near Prickett Lake, within the Ottawa National Forest. Two wolves were killed in the Superior State Forest, one of which was collared.
Other wolves killed in remote areas include one within the Sturgeon Gorge Wilderness area; five within the Baraga State Forest; and another within the boundary of the Black River National Scenic Byway. Three wolves were killed along the east branch of the Ontonagon River within the Ottawa National Forest.
This data reveals that the recent wolf hunt was not justified because most wolves killed were not involved with verified conflicts with livestock or humans during 2013.
Upon federal delisting of wolves in January 2012, livestock and pet owners were allowed to kill any wolf in the act of attacking their animals. Further, the DNR began issuing permits to landowners to kill any wolf on their property if they experienced a prior confirmed wolf attack on their animals. Eleven wolves were killed in control actions by government officials and private citizens.
The numbers demonstrate that these actions were effective. In Wolf Management Unit B (Ontonagon, Houghton and Baraga counties) verified livestock losses by wolves in 2013 were down 89 percent prior to the hunt.
In addition to the 23 wolves killed during the 2013 hunting season, the DNR also reported that 14 wolves were killed illegally.
The DNR should emphasize the value of wolves to the ecosystem through education and outreach, as recommended in Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan, instead of trying to find ways to kill non-problem wolves through a recreational hunt.