The Michigan Natural Resources Commission named the wolf a game species in the state, again approving a limited public wolf harvest in the Upper Peninsula.
This is the second time in two months that the commission has addressed the question of a wolf hunt. The first was in May, when the commission approved a similar measure. However, the law under which the action was taken has been suspended pending an ongoing referendum campaign supported by groups like the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign. Organizers of the campaigns say they'll focus on the ecological and cultural value of wolves.
The new law gives the NRC the right to name an animal as a game species, which they did today.
NRC officials say the decision supports scientific management of wolves, "just as voters intended" when they approved Proposal G by an overwhelming margin in 1996.
"Managing wildlife through science is far better than managing wildlife through ballot questions, which some organizations support for Michigan," said J.R. Richardson, NRC Chair. "The conservative public harvest proposal approved by the NRC ensures the long-term presence of wolves while providing a valuable tool for managing conflicts between wolves and human populations."
The regulations establish a limited harvest of 43 wolves in three areas of the Upper Peninsula where "wolf-human conflicts" - categorized as depredation of livestock as well as pets and human safety concerns - have been a problem.
The Department of Natural Resources says the state's wolf population has grown significantly since 2000, with a current minimum population of 658. Officials say the target harvest is not expected to affect the overall wolf population.
"This decision was a culmination of a long and thorough process by the NRC," said Keith Creagh, DNR Director. "The DNR will continue to work closely with the commission to be certain that Michigan's wolf population is managed according to the principles of sound science."
The 2013 wolf hunting season will open on November 15 and will run until the harvest is met, but no later than December 31. The bag limit is one wolf per person per year and trapping will not be allowed. Firearm, crossbow and bow-and-arrow hunting will be allowed on public and private lands.
A total of 1,200 licenses will be available for over-the-counter and online purchase on a first come, first served basis starting August 3. The cost will be $100 for residents and $500 for non-residents.