Wolves save deer lives

To the Journal editor:

What is this “lack of proper wildlife management” that Gary Gorniak is accusing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources/Natural Resources Commission of in the Saturday edition of The Mining Journal?

He shares some anecdotal evidence of observed deer herd size reduction, some provided by those who feed hundreds of deer. Wolves are blamed. Is it possible that feeding hundreds of deer in single localities may unwittingly allow disease to spread among the deer? What about deer kills by severe Upper Peninsula winters, poachers, automobiles, coyotes and bobcats?

The article “Experts surprised by which predator is No. 1 killer of deer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — mlive.com” indicates that coyotes and bobcats are the top predators of deer.

After noting the official U.P. wolf count of 695, Mr. Gorniak speculates that the population is at least 1,200 and states, “We have wolves all over the place.” The Upper Peninsula’s land area is 16,377 square miles, equating to almost 24 square miles per wolf. Anecdotally, I have not seen a wolf on my property, but do hear coyote packs in the evening, so I doubt wolves are literally everywhere.

Mr. Gorniak speculates that wolves are running the deer to death when deer should be conserving energy in deer yards and says deer show up at feeding stations with portions of their back end missing. One could wonder how many show up with an arrow or bullet lodged in it.

At the time of year when deer soon will be, or are busy mating, or soon after mating season, recreational hunters are busily shooting them with arrows and bullets to the tune of 31,000 reported legal U.P. kills (2019), plus uncounted kills by poachers and uncounted wounds leading to later death. Therefore, one could speculate that hunting may have a negative impact on the deer population.

(Some) want to lay all the blame for a lower U.P. deer population and lower hunter deer-kills on the wolf. Perhaps it is not the DNR/NRC who are failing to listen to a whiny hunting community, but hunters failing to listen to and believe the scientific evidence.

One could speculate that some deer hunters only measure success by quickly and easily killing a deer so they can spend the remainder of hunting season bragging about it in the bars and complaining about the DNR.

Wolves are responsible for reducing car-deer crashes by 24%, thus saving deer lives. Please leave the wolves alone.


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