Wolves Officially Under State Management Today
Last month’s decision from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the federal endangered species list became official today. Management authority over wolves in Michigan has been officially returned to the Department of Natural Resources, putting the state’s Wolf Management Plan into effect.
After meeting the criteria to delist more than a decade ago, conservation advocates finally won the day. Wolves no longer need federal protection. It it rightfully the state’s responsibility and authority to manage wildlife within its boundaries. According to the Wolf Management Plan, as of today wolves are classified as a “protected species” and allows for flexible management options for the state to control problem wolves. According to the 1996 Proposal G, supported overwhelmingly by voters, science-based management should guide future decisions on reclassifying wolves as a game species (something that can only be done by the legislature).
A 2008 state law MUCC pushed for also goes into effect today which allows livestock and dog owners the ability to protect their private property from wolf depredation—to remove, capture, or, if deemed necessary, use lethal means to destroy a wolf that is “in the act of preying upon” (attempting to kill or injure) the owner’s livestock or dog(s).
Specific guidelines have been provided by the DNR for livestock or dog owners who use lethal means to destroy a wolf:
1. Report the lethal take of a wolf by calling the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 800-292-7800 no later than 12 hours after the lethal take.
2. Retain possession of the wolf until a DNR official is available to take possession. A DNR official will respond to the scene within 12 hours of notification.
3. Do not move or disturb the dead wolf. The only exception to this rule is if a wolf has been killed in the act of preying upon livestock and leaving the wolf in place would impede normal farming practices. In that case the wolf may be moved to a secure location once photographs are taken of the wolf and the area where lethal means were used.
The DNR will continue to investigate and prosecute of any wolf poaching cases. Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution. Suspected poaching violations may be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the DNR’s RAP hotline.