Some reasons to oppose wolf hunting in Michigan
Scientific evidence does not suggest that wolves should be hunted in Michigan. Moreover, every reason that has been offered for why we should allow wolf hunting is misguided. For example:
- Some want to hunt wolves because they believe wolves threaten human safety. On the extremely rare occasions when wolves do pose such a threat the concern needs to be addressed immediately and targeted precisely at the offending wolf. A general wolf hunt is not a sensible approach for dealing with this concern.
- Some want to hunt wolves because they kill livestock. Wolves killed just 11 head of cattle per year, on average, between 2001 and 2010. Less than 10% of the wolf population is involved with livestock losses. We should be concerned with livestock losses, and there are good means for dealing with those losses, including adequate husbandry of livestock, financial compensation for losses, and a Michigan law allowing one to kill wolves attempting to kill or injure their livestock or dog. A general wolf hunt is not a sensible approach for dealing with this concern.
- Some want to hunt wolves because they kill deer. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to about a quarter million deer. Wolves kill approximately 23,000 deer each year. Malnutrition kills more than twice that number during a typical winter. Hunters kill more than twice what wolves kill in a typical hunting season. If there were every a wasteful way to kill deer it is with our automobiles. We kill about 10,000 deer each year with our automobiles.
Our lives are enriched by deer hunting, but a wolf’s life depends on it. Wolves will not infringe on our opportunity to hunt deer; they would only ask that we share some. That wolves eat deer is not a good reason to hunt wolves.
Wolf hunting is not like deer hunting, where hunters and their families are sustained by consuming its meat. We lose our humanity when we kill living creatures without adequate reason. I know of no adequate reason to think we should allow wolf hunting in Michigan. Some are motivated to hunt wolves in Michigan out of ignorance. And I am afraid others are motivated by hatred or callousness for life. If we allow wolf hunting in Michigan, it will be more a reflection of our attitude toward nature than a reflection of our scientific knowledge.
-John Vucetich, Associate Professor, co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project, co-director of the Conservation Ethics Group, and author of more than 75 scholarly publications on a range of environmental topics including wolves living in places like Isle Royale, Yellowstone, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the desert southwest, Canada, and Scandinavia. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the institutions or agencies with which Dr. Vucetich is associated.