With fewer than 650 wolves in Michigan and more than 50 years spent to recover them, we need to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

FAQ

Q: If the wolf has been delisted from the Endangered Species List, does that mean the population is recovered and ready for a hunting and trapping season?

A: No – after being driven to the brink of extinction, the gray wolf in Michigan has been under full legal protection for nearly 50 years, and on the federal Endangered Species List for nearly 40 years. Although wolf populations have been slowly recovering in the last four decades, there are still fewer than 700 wolves in the entire state, and wolves currently only occupy 5% of their historic range. Opening a hunting season on wolves so soon is premature and could be disastrous to their fragile population.

Q: Do wolves attack and kill livestock and pets, requiring a hunt to reduce these conflicts?

A: Though cases of wolves killing livestock are rare (fewer than 8% of U.P. ranches have experienced depredations [1]), Michigan law gives property owners the legal authority to protect their livestock and dogs. Opening a season on wolves is unnecessary because there is already a way to deal with wolves that kill livestock or dogs. Allowing the hunting and trapping of the animals just for trophies will accomplish nothing. A combination of state and private funding compensates ranchers for any livestock losses from wolves.

Q: Do people eat wolves?

A: No - wolves would be hunted only for trophies, and it means killing rare animals for no good purpose. Wolf hunting could mean allowing the same extreme practices that nearly wiped out this majestic species, including painful steel-jawed leghold traps and shooting them over piles of bait.

Q: Are wolves dangerous to human safety?

A: There has never been a recorded wolf attack on a human in Michigan. Wolves are afraid of people and do all they can to avoid them. Although wolves are predators, they pose no threat to public safety. An irrational fear or hatred of wolves should not drive the trophy hunting of these majestic creatures.

Q: Are wolves killing too many deer, and making it difficult for hunters to find deer to put meat on the table?

A: No. Wolves are an essential part of Michigan’s ecosystem. The percentage of hunters harvesting deer in 2011 was actually higher than the percentage in both 2010 and 2009. On November 16, 2012 the Michigan DNR's “White-Tailed Deer” website stated, "checkstation numbers across the U.P. are above last year and some areas are double what they were last year indicating a very positive start to the season for many hunters." [2] It's important to have wolves in Michigan because they help to control the population of deer in the state, which is often a concern for farmers, motorists, and other residents who worry about the impact of highly abundant populations.

Q: Would allowing a wolf hunt help our economy?

A: Michigan's wolves are much more valuable to the economy through tourism opportunities than through a wolf hunt. Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors travel to the Upper Peninsula to see wolves, moose and other wildlife. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, wildlife watchers who traveled to Michigan – both resident and non-resident – outnumbered people hunting in the state by 6 to 1.[3] Continuing tourism opportunities to view wolves could be a far more lucrative and sustainable business, rather than a hunting season on wolves, which could deplete the wolf population and impose a negative public perception on Michigan’s wildlife management policies. In their final report to the DNR’s director, the Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable even advised against reducing wolf abundance at large geographic scales, because it could “unacceptably restrict positive interactions desired by the public.”[4]

Q: How do Michigan’s Native American Tribes feel about opening a wolf hunt?

A: Michigan’s Native American Tribes oppose the hunting of wolves. They believe the wolf is a sacred animal who fits prominently in their history and their connection to the land. The wolf returning and gaining strength has been symbolic and important to tribes in the Upper Peninsula because it shows that with respect and appreciation all living things can regain strength.
“Mii’angin (wolf) is sacred to our Tribe and, to our members, encounters with gray wolves are not inherently negative. We are deeply concerned with legislation that seeks to minimize Gray Wolf encounters. We implore the state to seek legitimate methods to deal with habituated wolves that will not infringe on our right to sacred encounters with Mii’angin.” -Aaron Payment, Chairperson, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Q: Will a wolf hunt impact the Upper Peninsula’s ecosystem?

A: Wolves play a significant role in the Upper Peninsula ecosystem, and it is important to have natural predators like wolves because they help reduce densities of deer, beavers, and other species that are known to have an impact on crops, trees and plants, and even stream flow and other water bodies. Allowing a wolf hunt could reduce the benefits that wolves bring to agriculture, public safety, and ecosystem health.

Q: Why is a hunt being considered so soon after wolves have been delisted?

A: No species has been removed from the endangered list at such a low population level and then immediately hunted. The legislation to allow wolf hunting and trapping was rushed. Although it was in front of legislators for months, it was only brought up after the election with just a few weeks left in the year. The legislature decided to debate the issue during the holiday season and vote on it hoping the public was not paying attention. That is wrong. A wolf hunt is too important to leave to politicians trying to serve special interests.

Q: Does sound science support the opening of a wolf hunting season?

A: No. History has demonstrated that wolves can be severely impacted by predator control. Because people do not eat wolves and don’t use the animal in any way, wolves would be hunted only for trophies – meaning that these rare animals would be killed for no good purpose. Allowing wolf hunting could mean especially inhumane and unfair practices, such as painful steel-jawed leghold traps and hunting over bait. This not science-based wildlife management – it’s cruel and unsporting, and just pointless trophy hunting. The Wolf Management Roundtable group also agreed in its final report that a quota hunt was not a scientifically sound method of addressing wolf management. Wolves provide many ecological benefits to the ecosystem by preventing the overpopulation of deer and other wildlife, which can assist in curbing the spread of deadly diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease.

Q: Now that Public Act 520 has qualified for the ballot does that mean we have stopped the wolf hunt?

A: Not yet. Like any referendum, once the signatures have been gathered and the referendum has been certified we still need a NO! vote at the ballot box in November 2014. We have an additional hurdle to protecting the wolves since the passage of Public Act 21 (formerly SB 288). Only by defeating both of these bills can we hope to stop the cruel and pointless hunting and trapping of wolves.

Q: What is PA 21?

A: In an egregious power grab and heavily influenced by powerful special interest groups, politicians passed Public Act 21 of 2013 just weeks after our qualifying signatures were submitted. PA 21 allows the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC), in addition to the legislature, to add animals to the list of game species (animals that can be hunted). This means that if the NRC makes such a designation, Michigan voters would be unable to reverse that decision because it is an act of a regulatory body and not the legislature. This is a contemptuous move to subvert Michiganders’ longstanding constitutional right to voice their opinion on what happens to the state’s wildlife.

Q: Why do we need to do a referendum of both PA 520 and PA 21?

A: If either PA 520 or PA 21 is allowed to stand wolves will be listed as a game species in MI and the Natural Resources Commission will be able to set a hunting and trapping season. It is only by defeating both of these bills that we can hope to keep wolves protected from pointless trophy hunting and cruel traps.

Q: If we are successful in voting down both PA 520 and PA 21 will the wolves be safe?

A: For now. We must remain vigilant in our fight to protect this fragile and recovering species from powerful hunting and trapping special interest groups. Our wolves are held in public trust and we must all continue to work to defend them.

Q: Isn’t there some legal action that can be filed to stop the wolf hunt?

A: We aren’t ruling anything out, but we feel that the best, most effective use of our resources is to move forward with referendums of both PA 520 and PA 21.

Notes

[1] http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/featured/pnr-federal-grants-for-nonleth...
[2] http://deer.fw.msu.edu/
[3] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012. 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation: State Overview: U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved from: http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/ref/collection/document/id/858
[4] Peyton et al. (2006). Report of the Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable to the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/Final_Roundtable_Report_178862_7.pdf.


Latest News

Press Releases: Aug 27, 2014

Michigan’s wolves should not be hunted this year despite the Michigan House of Representatives’ vote in favor of the unconstitutional Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act . Because the Act will only take effect next year, it provides no authorization for a hunt this year and does not nullify the two referendums on the ballot this November.

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Endorsements

Keep Wolves Protected is endorsed by a number of organizations and citizens including:

  • Kalamazoo Humane Society
  • Pamela Graves, DVM
  • Detroit Audubon Society
  • Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network
  • Aaron Payment, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Voiceless-MI
  • Humane Society of Huron Valley
  • Detroit Zoological Society

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