A wolf hunting season in Michigan is one step closer to becoming reality.
Public Act 520 of 2012 (Senate Bill 1350) designated wolves as a game species in Michigan when it was signed into law in December.
"We commend the DNR for acting swiftly to outline a transparent and scientific process for moving forward with a wolf season," said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
The update, which was requested by new NRC Chairman J.R. Richardson, was given by Adam Bump of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
In his presentation, Bump covered the history of wolves in Michigan and the forthcoming process for determining how a public hunting and trapping opportunity could be structured.
After being extirpated in Michigan, wolves were granted state protection in 1965 and designated an Endangered Species in 1973. They began returning to the Upper Peninsula from Wisconsin and Canada in the 1980s. Wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species List and management returned to the state early in 2012, after more than tripling the original recovery population goal of 200.
A Wolf Management Plan was created in 2008 by representatives from diverse stakeholder groups, which recognized public hunting as an acceptable management method, particularly where population density was linked to wolf-human conflict, such as livestock or pet depredation.
According to the presentation, there has been a correlation between wolf density and livestock depredation events in the Upper Peninsula, warranting consideration of a possible wolf season. Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason stated that the Wolf Management Plan would be closely followed.
The presentation outlined some recommended next steps that may be instructive in forecasting when any wolf season might be implemented.
This month, the DNR will begin a wolf abundance survey and meet with tribal biologists per the 1836 Consent Decree. Tribal consultation will continue throughout the process.
In February, there will be a Wolf Forum meeting, followed by public engagement through a series of meetings in March. Another Wolf Forum meeting will be held in April, as well as completion of the abundance survey and a summary of depredation and human/wolf conflicts.
A recommended wolf season structure could be proposed in May or June. MUCC supported passage of the Wolf Bill, having adopted a policy resolution at its 2011 Annual Convention to support the creation of a wolf hunting and/or trapping season.