October NRC Preview

A predator-prey study, increasing public awareness, maintaining sustainable wolf prey populations discussed October wolf meeting.

The Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) is charged with making recommendations to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding wolf management. The council will undertake recommending updates to the 2015 Wolf Management Plan to include up-to-date biology and information.

The WMAC is comprised of six members: Dan Kennedy representing the DNR, Amy Trotter representing a conservation organization (Michigan United Conservation Clubs), Mike Thorman representing a hunting organization (Michigan Hunting Dog Federation), Miles Falck representing tribal interests (Great Lakes Indian and Fish and Wildlife Commission), Dick Pershinske representing agricultural interests (Upper Peninsula resident) and Bee Friedlander representing an animal advocacy organization (Attorneys for Animals). Falck was not in attendance at the meeting.

Six Michigan House of Representatives members from the Democratic Caucus testified remotely at the meeting expressing their general opposition to a wolf hunt and concerns with any potential management actions. Those who testified include: Rep. Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Ellison (D-Royal Oak), Rep. Stone (D-Warren), Rep. Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), Rep. Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) and Rep. Kuppa (D-Troy).

Councilmember and MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter said that keeping the management of our natural resources out of legislation and ballot boxes is paramount.

“At the first meeting of the advisory council we heard from elected officials of one party in support of management; yesterday, we heard from elected officials from another party opposing management,” Trotter said. “Conservation and wolf management is not partisan and MUCC’s desire is to keep these decisions out of the legislative process.”

Council members heard DNR Biologist Brian Roell present on a recently finalized predator-prey study in the Upper Peninsula.

Roell’s presentation indicated that 16 weeks post-birth, the survival rate of fawns is 47.1 percent within the UP. Coyotes account for the largest portion of fawn mortality, followed by bears and then wolves. Wolves are the No. 1 predator of adult does, accounting for 8.6 percent of total mortality. This data is from a report titled Factors limiting deer abundance in the Upper Peninsula that pulls data from the ongoing predator-prey study in the UP.

Councilmember Trotter made the motion to ask the DNR to investigate and incorporate how to integrate the use of volunteers in assessing the wolf population. Friedlander, a member of Attorneys for Animals, voted against the motion. The motion passed.

Trotter also made the motion to recommend to the department a third-party evaluation of the methodology of the wolf survey on a regular basis. Friedlander voted against the motion, and Chair Kennedy abstained. The motion passed.

Councilmember Thorman, representing hunting interests and the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, made a motion that the department establishes a dedicated 24-hour line to report human-wolf encounters, in addition to existing methods. Friedlander voted against the motion, and Chair Kennedy abstained. The motion passed.

In November, it is expected that the council will have a full accomplishments report regarding the 2015 Wolf Management Plan. The council is also poised to look at research and monitoring programs (Section 6.2), enacting and enforcing regulations to sustain a viable wolf population (Section 6.3) and promoting positive wolf-human interactions (Section 6.8).

The results of the wolf public attitude survey have been delayed due to physical mailings. Department researchers will not have all of the responses until the end of November. A presentation will be given to the WMAC in January regarding the survey.

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