Wolf Management Advisory Council to Make Recommendations to NRC
The Michigan Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) will meet Wednesday, April 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Little Bear Arena, located at 275 Marquette St. in St. Ignace and Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) will be represented on the Council.
The Wolf Management Advisory Council (previously known as the Wolf Forum) was codified under a law passed by the Legislature in December 2012 that reclassified wolves as a game species and directed the WMAC to report its recommendations on wolf management annually to the Legislature and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC). The NRC has the authority to determine whether public harvest of wolves should be allowed and to regulate season structure and method of harvest.
At the April 24 meeting, staff from the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division will gather input from council members regarding a current proposal to use hunting and trapping to manage and resolve conflict issues. Members of the public are welcome to observe the council’s discussions and will have the opportunity to provide written comments at the meeting.
The NRC is in the process of considering the authorization of the hunting and trapping of wolves as a management tool. The NRC may take action on a proposal for the public harvest of wolves in May. The council will develop information at the April 24 meeting to help inform the NRC in preparation for its decision.
For those of you interested in actual facts about the wolf population in Michigan and the hunting and trapping proposal, the DNR Powerpoint Presentation from the April NRC meeting is a good place to start (begins on page 50 of the PDF).
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Another trend that is important to note is the annual population cycle. When the DNR does its count, the wolf population is at its lowest level of the year. The summer population of wolves in Michigan is still over 1,000.
Armed with this information and a variety of other data sources, the DNR has recommended to the NRC a limited hunting and trapping season with a target of 43 wolves: 16 wolves (down from 21) from Wolf Management Unit A (see link for detailed description and map) in Western Gogebic County, 19 for WMU B (up from 18 in portions of counties in the Western Upper Peninsula), and 8 for WMU C in portions of Luce and Mackinac Counties in the Eastern UP. The level of proposed harvest and size and location of the WMUs are commensurate with the level of nuisance complaints and depredation events.
In 2013, the season is recommended to open on November 1 and go through December 31, or whenever the desired unit harvest is met (which ever comes first). To manage this highly controlled season, a hunter will be required to report successful harvest by the end of the day via a designated phone line and also check it within 3 days to a DNR check station to allow them to collect biological information. Once the harvest is met (or expected to be met imminently) for a WMU, the entire unit will be closed for the season. Licensed hunters will be required to check daily online or by calling in to see if any units have been closed.
Two options are offered to regulate the disbursement of wolf licenses: Option 1 would be a lottery system allowing 1,200 licenses in total (application period would be Aug. 1-Sept 1) and Option 2 would allow licenses to be sold over the counter in advance of the season (Aug 1-October 31). The DNR recommends allowing any current legal hunting device for hunting a wolf, including firearms, crossbows, and bow and arrow. They have also recommended allowing the use of foothold traps, only on private land and checked daily.
As Michigan does with each and every game species and hunting/trapping regulation, the DNR intends to use adaptive management practices, which will evaluate the success of management, population levels, and the amount of effort spent to reach the desired harvest. This information will help to aide them in determining the parameters for future seasons.
MUCC supports the general framework as outlined, but will be providing input on specific aspects as this regulation change moves forward.
For more information about the WMAC meeting, contact the council’s DNR liaison, Adam Bump, at 517-373-1263. To learn more about Michigan’s wolf population and Wolf Management Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.