Credibility at issue

To the Journal editor:

Thank you for your article, “Wolf Hunt Lessons,” (Nov. 17, 2013). In the article, Michigan Department of Natural Resources furbearer specialist Adam Bump said, “The hunt is not about managing the number of wolves, but reducing conflicts.”

I would like to respectfully assert that shooting a random 43 wolves in the U.P. is like going to New York City and arresting a random 43 people to reduce the crime rate.

Interestingly, at the Midwest Stewards Conference back in April, the DNR arranged for a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks specialist, George Pauley, to address the audience about the patch occupancy model for wolves – a method that relies heavily on an annual hunter survey to count populations of wolves. We were told that this model is expected to improve the state’s ability to set hunting quotas once state management of wolves was restored.

As we learned from Dr. Gordon Haber’s 43 years of wolf research in the book “Among Wolves,” written with Marybeth Holleman, when it comes to wolves, it’s not about numbers. It’s about its pack. A wolf is a wolf when it’s part of an intact, unexploited group capable of complex cooperative behaviors and unique traditions. If a pack is left unexploited, it will develop its own traditions for hunting, pup-rearing, and social behaviors that are finely tuned to its precise environment.

Wolves should not be managed by the simplistic models most commonly used by today’s hunter-dominated wildlife agencies. The notion that we can “harvest” a fixed percentage of an existing wolf population that corresponds to natural mortality rates and still maintain a viable population misses the point.

You can’t manage wolves by the numbers. You can’t just count the numbers of wolves over a particular area and decide whether it’s a “healthy” population. That’s because the functional unit of wolves is the pack. If we leave wolves alone, they will manage their own numbers in concert with their environment. And, if we leave wolves alone, we will be the ones to benefit – for the presence of wolves brings natural balance to ecosystems.

The credibility of Michigan’s DNR and NRC continues to plummet! Don’t tell taxpayers that the hunt is all about reducing conflict. It is evident that the DNR and NRC are intent on reducing the population of wolves in the state – something the wolves proved they could do themselves when, this year, their population dipped below last year’s count.