Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Time to understand real threat to wolves

To the Editor,

Joe Allen, in his Letter to the Editor published Dec. 13, said he has been a trapper for 40-plus years. That qualifies him as an experienced trapper but not as an expert on predator/prey relationships.

There is no data to support his claim that “wolves have taken deer numbers to less than half of what they used to be.”

Research shows deer numbers are affected less by predators than factors such as weather, food, habitat quality and human hunters.

Research also shows that wolves actually strengthen the deer herd by culling the spread of diseases within the deer population. Bovine Tuberculosis has had an enormous effect on the Northern Lower Peninsula Michigan deer population, the livestock industry, and Michigan’s economy since the disease was discovered in Michigan in the mid-90s. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease an acute, infectious, often fatal viral disease killed nearly 15,000 Michigan deer in 2012.

It is no coincidence that these diseases have been found in deer populations where there are no wolves.

Mr. Allen also wrongly asserts that other Great Lakes states have wolf management but “Michigan has nothing.” The Michigan Wolf Management Plan was implemented upon the delisting of the wolf in January 2012. Under the plan, wolves responsible for depredation can be killed. Landowners can kill any wolf in the act of attacking their animals. Following a verified livestock loss, DNR will issue a permit to the producer allowing him to designate up to 15 licensed hunters/trappers to kill nuisance wolves on his property.

These management techniques have been extremely effective in reducing conflicts. With about 900 working farms and 50,000 head of cattle in the U.P. only 13 livestock animals were killed by wolves in 2013. So far, in 2014, 26 livestock animals have been killed at 14 farms (plus nine missing and three injured). This increase followed Michigan’s only wolf hunt and the pattern is consistent with other evidence that suggests the indiscriminate killing of wolves can lead to an increase in conflicts.

The greatest danger to wolf populations in the U.P. is misinformation and we cannot allow fear mongering and anecdotal observations to taint science based decisions.

Nancy Warren