Control fear

To the Journal editor:

Wolf attacks on dogs have been in the news lately. The loss of a dog due to any cause is heartbreaking for those who love them.

The most recent of three wolf vs. dog incidents near Atlantic Mine was widely misreported, in that it was initially stated the wolf entered the dog owner’s fenced yard. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources office in Marquette clarified, on May 24, that while the yard was in the process of being fenced, the whole back end was open.

Pet owners are obligated to keep their animals out of harm’s way, as much as possible. Regardless, probably everyone agrees that depredation on a dog next to one’s home cannot be tolerated. When there is a conflict, it must be addressed promptly and the offending wolves removed.

Three wolves believed to have been involved in the recent attacks have already been killed, under Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan. The Plan allows for non-lethal and lethal measures to address wolf-related conflicts. Wolves were federally delisted in January 2012, allowing for their lethal control.

Last year, permits were issued to 15 livestock owners, and 11 wolves were killed. Nine wolves were killed by DNR/Wildlife Services and six were killed by producers because they posed a threat to their livestock.

The aforementioned efforts will continue, even after a hunt is implemented, so hunting will be added mortality. How will shooting and trapping random wolves that are not responsible for conflicts address chronic problems?

Even the DNR admits a hunting season may not reduce depredation of dogs or livestock or prevent wolves from following deer into residential areas. Irrational fear is not a sound scientific reason for implementing a wolf hunting season.

The assumption that hunting wolves and reducing their numbers will reduce livestock losses would be proven false if hunters are targeting the wrong animals. (Adrian Treves, Kerry A. Martin. Hunters as Stewards of Wolves in Wisconsin and the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA. Society and Natural Resources, 2011; 24 (9): 984 DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2011.559654)

A hunt may cause more problems, unless the true motive of the plan is not to sustain a wolf population at all.