Wolf management

DNR seeks comments from public; online survey runs through Jan. 31

A gray wolf is seen in a Michigan wooded area. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

MARQUETTE — As the Michigan Department of Natural Resources updates the state’s wolf management plan, the agency seeks public comment about the future of wolf management.

Comments will be taken via an online survey through Jan. 31.

The current plan, created in 2008 and updated in 2015, was developed using extensive public input to identify important issues and assess public attitudes toward wolves and their management and by reviewing the biological and social science relevant to wolf management, the DNR said.

The plan can be accessed at bit.ly/3EOdBlu.

New public input gathered on the 2015 plan will help inform an updated plan to be completed this year. The four principal goals within the 2015 plan are to: maintain a viable wolf population, facilitate wolf-related benefits, minimize wolf-related conflicts and conduct science-based and socially acceptable management of wolves.

The plan and, more specifically, these four principal goals have guided wolf management in Michigan for the last 13 years, the DNR said. The new update will include recent scientific literature and new information regarding wolves in Michigan.

“As we work to update the 2015 wolf management plan, it’s important that we gather feedback from the public about how we can improve the plan to protect the long-term health of wolves while also meeting the needs of local communities,” said Cody Norton, DNR large carnivore specialist, in a news release.

Michigan’s gray wolf population was nearly eliminated by the mid-1970s due to persecution and active predator control programs in the early part of the 20th century, the DNR said. Today, Michigan’s wolf population numbers close to 700 individuals in the Upper Peninsula. Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in early 2021, a decision currently being challenged in court.

According to the DNR, the U.P. wolf population was estimated at only 20 animals in 1992. Because of the population recovery the state Legislature removed wolves from the state list of endangered species in April 2009, and reclassified wolves as a protected, nongame species.

In January 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota from the federal endangered species list and returned management authority to the state level. However, in December 2014, a federal court order returned wolves to the Federal Endangered Species list. An appeal of this decision is underway.

As a result of the federal decision, the DNR indicated the impacts of this ruling are:

≤ Wolves may be killed only in the immediate defense of human life.

≤ Two state laws allowing livestock or dog owners to kill wolves in the act of depredation are suspended.

≤ Lethal control permits previously issued to livestock farmers are no longer valid.

≤ The DNR no longer has the authority to use lethal control methods to manage problem wolves. However, other non-lethal methods such as flagging, fencing, flashing lights and guard animals still may be be used and are encouraged to prevent or minimize wolf depredation.

Citizens experiencing issues with depredation or bold/nuisance wolves should contact their local DNR wildlife biologist or call Norton at 906-452-6227 ext. 230.

A Wolf Management Advisory Council that includes representatives from various agencies, tribes and stakeholder groups that represent a variety of values and interests concerning wolves and wolf management in Michigan has been created. The council holds meetings to discuss basis to discuss wolf management goals, educational opportunities, conflict resolutions and other topics.

In the DNR wolf survey, participants will be asked a variety of questions, including the level of satisfaction with the goal of maintaining a viable wolf population above a level that would warrant its classification as threatened or endangered. They also will be asked for comments or suggestions for the new update of the 2015 Wolf Management Plan.

For more information about wolves in Michigan, including links to the survey and the state’s wolf management plan, visit Michigan.gov/Wolves.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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