NRC on right track in wolf hunt strategy

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division is working to speed up preparation of its recommendation on a potential wolf hunt to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. The NRC asked the division to present its formal recommendation at the commission’s April meeting, rather than the June session.

DNR officials said the request was made because the division was making good progress toward developing its background information, survey results and public comments and with the controversy surrounding the potential for a Michigan wolf hunt, the NRC thinks getting the recommendation out to the public as soon as possible is a good idea.

We agree speeding up the recommendation is a positive step, provided the wildlife division is able to effectively compile and analyze all the data to produce a recommendation by the NRC’s April 11 meeting.

There have been substantial false claims made by wolf hunt opposition groups -including those behind a petition referendum drive to try to reverse December’s reclassification of gray wolves as a game species in Michigan- about what the state plans to do if it is to allow a wolf hunt.

Assertions that wolves could be hunted with dogs, certain types of cruel traps or from helicopters have been refuted by DNR officials. Other claims that a wolf hunt would be widespread, purely for hunters to collect trophies and would greatly diminish Upper Peninsula wolf populations are also untrue.

The NRC is expected to decide in May whether to allow a hunt and what the provisions would entail.

Getting information to the public about exactly what is planned via a formal recommendation, as soon as possible, is a smart move.

The DNR had already begun this process through a series of four public meetings this month where descriptions of what a wolf hunt would likely include or not include were provided.

Wolves were reclassified as game species in a bill passed by the state Legislature and signed by the governor in December. The NRC subsequently asked the wildlife division to take several steps to develop its recommendation on whether a wolf hunt should take place, and if so, what the provisions of the hunt might be.

Among those tasks, the wildlife division is completing a wolf population survey; compiling a thorough review of documented wolf conflicts, including depredation of livestock and pets; meeting with the Wolf Management Advisory Council to discuss a possible wolf hunt aimed at resolving wolf conflicts; providing public input opportunities and conducting government-to-government consultation with tribal governments.

In addition, an NRC committee plans to consult wolf management officials and scientists from other states, including those where wolf hunts have already occurred, before the full commission makes its decision on whether to offer a limited hunt to resolve wolf conflicts here in Michigan.

We think the wildlife division has done a lot of thoughtful work in developing its recommendation and its presentations to the public. We look forward to the final result next month and the NRC’s subsequent decision.