DNR Director: 'Always A Potential' For Wolf Trapping
DNR Director Keith CREAGH, in a year-end interview with MIRS, said the hunt evaluation process is underway, and a decision to be made on any future hunts could come later in May or June.
However, Creagh said the trapping of wolves has shown to be more effective than hunting, but wouldn't say for sure if that would happen here in Michigan.
"At this point in time, it's too soon to tell should you integrate trapping into that broader portfolio of tools, but that's always a potential," he said.
The DNR limited the number of wolves to be taken during the roughly six-week season ending Tuesday at 43.
A group organizing to repeal the wolf hunting season through the ballot box, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) issued a press release today condemning the use of trapping for any future wolf hunts as being "inhumane" and "painful." During the 2013 wolf hunt in Wisconsin, 67 percent of wolves caught were through traps, KMWP claims.
Creagh said a summary report of the hunt could come as soon as the Jan. 9 Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.
"We are convinced that we did not adversely impact the population and the sustainability of the wolf packs," he said. "What is unclear yet is exactly how we influenced the behavior of the animals."
When asked why he thought the wolf hunt attracted so much criticism from opposition groups, Creagh said one reason is that some people disagree with using hunting to manage animal populations.
Citing the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation, he said hunting could be used to sustain and protect animal populations.
"At some point in time, there needs to be check and balance in the system," he said.
KMWP and the Humane Society of the United States have been outspoken opponents of hunting Michigan wolves.
After the Legislature made wolves a game species, the anti-hunting groups gathered enough signatures to trigger a 2014 referendum on the law and put it on hold. But the Legislature passed another law giving the power of designating game species to the NRC.
The anti-hunting groups then started a second petition drive for a referendum on that law. But now a coalition of hunting groups are gathering signatures to put a initiative in front of lawmakers that would protect the NRC's game designation power.
When asked what the DNR and NRC would do if the power to name game species were taken away by referendum, Creagh said, "If our statutory authorities are repealed, we'll work within the statutory authorities that are given to us by the Legislature."
But asked what the larger impact would be, Creagh said, "we fully support the NRC having the ability to name game species, we think that's the appropriate venue and the right scientific rigor to employ for wildlife management in this state."
Creagh said another reason the hunt may have drawn controversy is because the wolves were once protected under the Endangered Species Act.
"In somebody's mind's eye, you were protecting it, so why are you no longer protecting it?" he said.
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