By Izzy Lyman
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is soliciting comments as the state conservation agency retools its 2008 Wolf Management Plan.
The 2008 plan was crafted with extensive public input. Among its principal goals were to maintain a viable wolf population, minimize wolf-related conflicts, and conduct science-based, socially acceptable management of the species.
Since the plan was enacted, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the gray wolf population (Canis lupus) in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, had recovered and no longer needed the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).* The species was removed from the ESA in 2012, and, hence, the Wolverine State assumed “full management authority” for the wolves. The DNR estimates that in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the wolf population has grown to over 600 which is up from 20 animals in 1992.
Great Lakes wolves remain divisive creatures. Either they are viewed as a dangerous nuisance by Michiganders who have lost pets or livestock in a wolf attack, or they are sacred icons, as many American Indian tribes view them. While the 2013 state-sponsored wolf hunt in Michigan yielded 22 animals being legally killed, organizations, like Keep Wolves Protected (a force behind the largely symbolic November 2014 ballot proposals) have rejected “trophy hunting” this natural predator.
Phase 1 of the comment period is now open. Interested parties can participate in an electronic survey in which respondents are asked questions about the 12 strategic goals from the 2008 plan. Comments and answers will be accepted until December 11, 2014. Those unable to participate in the survey electronically can contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 to receive a paper survey.
The Michigan DNR, whose mission it is to conserve, protect, and manage the State’s natural resources, hopes to have the wolf plan update completed by the spring of 2015.
*This list features the gray wolves, in other regions of the United States, that are still protected by the ESA. These species are either in danger of extinction or are threatened (may become endangered).