The following comments were provided by Michigan United Conservation Clubs Executive Director Amy Trotter at the June Natural Resources Commission meeting. Oral testimony was edited to fit within the time limits of public testimony.
MUCC’s membership has remained steadfast in its commitment to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, advocating for science-based decision making and supporting the state’s role in wolf management.
Since 2007, I have served as the primary MUCC staff contact as it relates to wolf management and served on the previous Wolf Forum and the Wolf Management Advisory Council, and I have drafted and led communication efforts directed towards every engaged state and federal agency, lawmakers and stakeholder groups regarding the management, laws and intricacies surrounding gray wolves in Michigan.
Through many years of experiencing the merry-go-round of wolf listing and delisting, I, on behalf of MUCC and its members, have remained steadfast in advocating in every venue that the best available scientific data drive the conversation surrounding wolf management in Michigan. That message has also been relayed to every relevant federal and state agency, lawmakers, through countless media interviews and speaking engagements reaching far beyond just MUCC members. So it should be no surprise to any of the NRC or DNR staff today as to MUCC’s position, but I’ve been asked to restate it for the record.
The fact of the matter is that wolves in the western Great Lakes states are fully recovered. They’re not endangered and they’re not threatened. The continued litigation of this population, under any designation, makes a mockery of the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes its integrity to be used for truly endangered species.
In 2011, MUCC’s membership went on record in support of a hunting and trapping season to manage the gray wolf population in the State of Michigan “based upon sound scientific management and to preserve the magnificent animal on the Michigan landscape”. The first and only modern-day hunt was held in 2013. Since that time, there have been other member-supported proposals to encourage the NRC to look at the Upper Peninsula as a whole when considering hunting and trapping seasons and also for the planning effort to arise at a population management goal, rather than a population minimum. In lots of conversations with members more recently, we have recognized that there needs to be a better tool and interface to report wolf-related conflicts AND impacts to the DNR.
As I have reviewed the 2015 plan prior to our first meeting of the newly-appointed Wolf Management Advisory Council hopefully in July, one thing that has stuck out to me is that we need to take a look at the “why” — why we manage this species since that seems to be debated. We do not require a human conflict to hunt turkeys; in fact, we have held a hunt alongside their recovery. We harvest about 10 percent of the bear population each year, and still, the population is stable and growing in some areas. We have about 1,000 elk in Michigan, have a goal range of population and use hunting as a tool for maintaining the population at its target size and location. Wolves in Michigan ARE a game species. Our state managers are hired and trained to manage wildlife species while protecting their existence. This is not based on fear, emotion or anything else, but based on reality. Hunters do pay for fish and wildlife management in Michigan, this is borne out by reading the appropriations bill detailing the DNR budget for anyone wishing to review it.
MUCC and its members will be fully participating in the wolf management plan update and are impatient for the work to begin. And once this work is completed, we will be back here calling on the NRC to adopt a hunting and trapping season according to the plan, derived from the scientific review and robust public input opportunities to come.
Amy Trotter, Executive Director
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