Accomplishments report, updated recommendations part of November wolf council meeting
Michigan’s Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) members received an accomplishments report regarding the 2015 Wolf Management Plan before diving into new business at their November meeting.
Michigan’s wolf population has recovered to 695 wolves according to the DNR — greater than the original population goal of 200 established by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 1997.
In late 2020, the Trump administration delisted the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act and handed management of the species back to states. That delisting has been challenged by anti-hunting organizations in a California federal court.
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 participating via phone at the meeting.
The accomplishments report given by DNR Large-carnivore Specialist Cody Norton highlighted several reached goals since the last wolf management plan was developed, including:
- Providing information to the public on wolves through radio, tv interviews and presenting at conferences and university classes
- Monitoring the abundance and distribution of wolves more accurately
- Improving and maintaining wildlife habitat on state land and other land ownerships
- Monitoring disease prevalence by collecting samples and performing necropsies at a lab
- Conducting research projects to provide greater understanding of deer survival
- Recognizing the cultural significance of wolves through including indigenous values into management plans
- Providing livestock producers with information and non-lethal tools to minimize wolf conflicts
The presentation of the DNR’s accomplishments will be made available in the near future, which will be posted on the WMAC landing page.
Holding the department accountable for outcomes and accomplishments is of utmost importance for the advisory council, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter.
“Understanding the department’s accomplishments from the 2015 Wolf Management Plan will help to inform the council’s recommendations moving forward,” Trotter said. “Whether it’s research on the predation of deer or the tactics to determine wolf counts, it’s information the council, and frankly the public, needs to know.”
New business included discussions on: maintaining active research and monitoring programs to support science (Section 6.2 in 2015 plan), and enacting and enforcing regulations necessary to maintain a viable wolf population (Section 6.3 in 2015 plan).
Old business included recommendations to 2015 wolf management plan:
Section 6.1: Increase public awareness and understanding of wolves and wolf-related issues
The council approved the following motions:
- Prioritize working with partners as defined in 6.1.1 and engaging additional partners who represent a full range of perspectives on wolves.
- Recommend the DNR focus more information and education on positive interactions with wolves to both hunters and non-hunters.
- Prioritize providing unbiased accurate information and dispelling rumors or inaccurate information, particularly important with the proliferation of misconceptions about wolves and prioritizing the evaluation of its effectiveness of the wolf-based information and education programs.
The council reviewed section 6.4. No recommendations were made.
At the December meeting, WMAC members will focus on recommendations related to sections 6.3 and possibly 6.5 for the next wolf management plan.
DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) is expected to present on the accomplishments, and council members suggested presentation items such as whether LED believes the current fines and penalties act as an actual deterrent to poaching and how LED interacts with the judicial system during prosecutions
The minutes from the October meeting are being held over to the December meeting due to proposed changes to the document, and in addition, council members indicated their intent to make a motion for a running document of interim recommendations on the WMAC website to help with transparency to the public.
Like to see wolf populations and ranges increase.
We are 495 wolves over the goal of 200 that was set when the reintroduction plan was sold to the residents of the U.P.! Many people think 695 is underestimated and the population is closer to 800. WE NEED MANAGEMENT NOW! Honor the agreement of a stable population of 200 like originally planned! We have suffered enough!
I own a camp in Carp Lake Twp Ontonagon Co. this is the first time in 37 yrs no one will be hunting there. Since the wolves were introduced into the Porky Pine Mountains the deer heard has gone from very good to nothing. Last year I hunted 150 hours on my baited blind of 25 yrs and say 5 deer, 3 wolves, this is shame full. You people should get out of your office and in the real world, just take a ride to Gogebic Co / Ontonagon Co. and check out the motels to see how many have hunters, not only have they killed the deer population they have ruined the local economy. WAKE UP !!
Wolves were not reintroduced to the Porkies or anywhere else in Michigan, except during 1974 when 4 wolves were introduced into the Huron Mountains – all 4 were dead within a matter of months and didn’t even live long enough to breed.
This is going to be a very hard sell with U.P. sportsmen ..”Recommend the DNR focus more information and education on positive interactions with wolves to both hunters and non-hunters.” The wolf has done so much damage to other wildlife and this process is moving so slowly with really bad moves by the DNR ( surveying non hunters in southern Michigan on how we should manage wolves in the U.P.??? coming up with a 25 page report that say wolves don’t effect deer numbers much???) The DNR has not done one thing to show the U.P. sportsmen that they understand the problem the way yoopers see it. I tried to talk to Dan Kennedy about that at the meeting and his response was they feel that the wolf will be relisted and they are following the procedures set by the director. If the wolf gets relisted Curt Duncans 17 poached wolves will a starting point. Just trying to give you a little behind the scenes info on what yoopers are telling me.
If wolves are at 3x their recovery number, why aren’t they being managed effectively to help other areas prosper besides the UP? Perhaps the 400+ extras should be relocated to the southern 1/3rd of the state so that they can help the ecosystems around Lansing and Detroit.
200 wolves was never a population goal as stated in this blog. The winter Michigan wolf population must exceed 200 animals to achieve the first stated goal of the Wolf Management plan. However, this minimum requirement is not necessarily sufficient to provide all of the ecological and social benefits valued by the public (see section 5.2 of the plan). Accordingly, 200 wolves is not a target population size. The plan does not identify a target population size, nor does it establish an upper limit for the number of wolves in the State.
200 was never a population goal – it was considered minimum criteria for recovery. The nearly 30 year old Federal Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf indicated: “A population of at least 200 wolves . . . is believed to be large enough to be viable, as well as to have sufficient genetic diversity, to exist indefinitely in total isolation from any other wolf population” (USFWS 1992:25).
As stated on page 16 of the Wolf Management Plan, “when the winter population maintained a minimum level of 200 animals for 5 consecutive years and the species was federally de-listed, wolves could be removed from the State list of threatened and endangered species.” Wolves were removed from the State list of threatened and endangered species.
The plan also states on page 17, “… this minimum requirement is not necessarily sufficient to provide all of the ecological and social benefits valued by the public (see 5.2). Accordingly, 200 wolves is not a target population size. Management will be conducted to maintain the wolf population above the minimum size requirement and facilitate those wolf-related benefits while minimizing and resolving conflicts where they occur (see 5.3). This plan does not identify a target population size, nor does it establish an upper limit for the number of wolves in the State.”