Wolf population survey on agenda for next council meeting

The second meeting of the Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) will feature survey processes and an overview of the 2015 wolf management plan, according to a draft agenda.

The meeting will be held in Gaylord next Wednesday (September 1) at Inn the Woods Michaywe starting at 9 a.m. Interested parties can attend in person and submit public comment. Public comment can also be submitted via email by emailing Victoria Lischalk at dnr-wmac@michigan.gov. If you plan to testify or submit comments, please see the public comment guidelines adopted at the council’s first meeting.

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Biologist Brian Roell will be discussing the minimum population wolf count survey. Specifically, he will be addressing how population estimates are generated, what the survey techniques are, and what kind of internal and external validation process the study goes through, according to DNR Director Dan Eichinger’s statements at the August Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.

At the August WMAC meeting, former state large-carnivore specialist Kevin Swanson addressed the council regarding his tenure with the department and what he felt were inaccuracies regarding final wolf counts.

Swanson’s comments were heralded as a “smoking gun” by many, but Eichinger said the DNR will address the allegations through a transparent walkthrough of survey methodology and auditing processes.

“There’s going to be a lot of attention on that topic in particular,” Eichinger said, referencing the wolf survey. “We are going to make sure we meet that squarely and head-on so that we are unpacking for folks in a public way how we do our surveys, what our surveys are and what they are not. I think it’s important for understanding the role of confidence intervals as well.”

MUCC has spent several weeks talking with independent and former biologists to determine the weight of Swanson’s allegations, said Amy Trotter, MUCC executive director and WMAC member.

“We cannot let the credibility of our state’s natural resource management hinge on the allegations of one former employee. However, we can’t dismiss and discount those allegations either,” Trotter said. “An in-depth review of methodology and audit processes for determining our wolf population is in order. I am committed to transparency and finding the truth for Michigan citizens and, perhaps more importantly, the Upper Peninsula residents struggling with this issue.”

Other agenda items include an overview of the 2015 wolf management plan update and an overview of the process by which data on wolf interactions is collected. DNR Large-carnivore Specialist Cody Norton will present on both topics.

New business will include an overview of the 2015 management plan, the wolf population survey and reporting wolf interactions.

MUCC will be live streaming the WMAC, and the organization does so at no cost to the public in an effort to better transparency and public engagement. If you enjoy watching these meetings without having to attend, consider donating to or joining MUCC to allow us to continue to stream these events: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC.

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