LANSING, Mich. – Poor animal care and negligent behavior on one Upper Peninsula farm skewed statistics used by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to push for a wolf hunting season in Michigan, according to information revealed through the Freedom of Information Act. February 2013 documents reveal the alarming details of a DNR investigation into a Matchwood farm, in Ontonagon County, owned by John Koski that was used as a major justification for the 2013 wolf hunting season.
The investigation noted that Koski failed to use nearly $4,000 of non-lethal wolf deterrence methods, including fencing and donkeys, which the DNR provided to him free of charge. In fact, a DNR investigator and accompanying veterinarian found that Koski allowed two of the donkeys to die and a third was removed because of extremely poor health due to lack of care. The DNR also found that Koski failed to provide proper care and water for his own cattle and left carcasses on his property to attract predators, in violation of the state’s Bodies of Dead Animals Act.
“One negligent farmer who refused to use the fences and guard donkeys given to him for free by the state cannot be held up as the poster child for Michigan’s wolf hunt,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “The true intent of the wolf hunt in Michigan has nothing to do with livestock conflicts. It is purely to satisfy a vocal minority who just want a trophy hunt.”
In the spring of 2013, the DNR submitted a proposal for a wolf hunt in three Wolf Management Units, or WMUs, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. According to the DNR, the objective of a wolf hunt in WMU B, which includes Ontonagon, Baraga and parts of Houghton counties, is “…to reduce the number of chronic livestock depredations” by targeting 19 wolves.
The “chronic livestock depredations” that the DNR is referring to in WMU B mainly occurred on Koski’s farm.
An examination of DNR statistics of confirmed livestock losses due to wolves in WMU B reveals that an astoundingly high percentage in recent years occurred on the Koski farm. Within WMU B during the period of 2010 to 2013:
- 73 percent (57 of 78) of wolf conflicts with livestock have occurred on the Koski farm;
- 80 percent (96 of 120) of individual livestock confirmed killed by wolves have been on the Koski farm;
- 82 percent ($32,936 of $40,098.51) of all compensation for livestock lost to wolves has gone to the Koski farm; and
- 64.4 percent (96 of 149) of the cattle killed by wolves in the entire U.P. in the past 3 years have been on the Koski farm.
If this one irresponsible farmer is removed from the overall statistics of confirmed wolf losses on livestock in the area of WMU B in the past 3 years, the actual amount of livestock losses due to wolves is minimal and cannot justify a wolf hunt. Since 2010, Koski’s farm was one of only 11 U.P. farms that experienced any confirmed wolf losses. The few isolated remaining incidents of wolves taking livestock can be—and are already—managed through non-lethal measures and individually-directed lethal control of problem wolves under existing state law. What’s more, so far in 2013, not one farm in WMU B has experienced a confirmed wolf loss.
“It’s already legal in Michigan to kill problem wolves in the rare instances when livestock or pets are threatened,” added Fritz. “Hunters won’t be targeting problem wolves, but randomly killing animals in national forests and other wilderness areas.”