Wolf hunt on pace to hit quota; deer harvest down

MARQUETTE – Ten days into the wolf and firearm deer seasons, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials said 11 wolves have been killed so far, setting a pace to reach the total hunt quota of 43 wolves before the Dec. 31 season end.

Meanwhile, reports from deer check stations and the Mackinac Bridge indicate the number of deer killed so far this season continues to remain down from last year.

The total wolf hunt quota of 43 wolves is spread across three wolf management areas in the Upper Peninsula. In Unit A, located in western Gogebic County, a total of 16 wolves may be killed in this area. As of this morning, the DNR said four wolves had been killed there.

In Unit B, which includes portions of Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton and Baraga counties, the harvest quota is 19 wolves. Six wolves have been killed there so far.

Unit C covers parts of Luce and Mackinac Counties and has a quota of eight wolves. One wolf had been killed there as of today.

A total of 1,200 hunters have wolf hunting licenses. The bag limit is one wolf per hunter. Trapping is not allowed. If a unit’s quota is reached, hunting will be shut down in that area by the DNR. Hunters must check daily to determine whether units remain open for hunting.

The cost of wolf hunting licenses in Michigan is $100 for residents and $500 for non-residents.

In Minnesota, early season wolf hunting ended Sunday without hunters reaching their quota of 106 wolves. A total of 87 wolves were killed from two zones.

Late season hunting and trapping resumes Saturday and will continue until Jan. 31 or until target quotas are reached. The total Minnesota quota for the early and late season wolf hunts is 220 wolves from three zones.

A wolf hunting license costs $30 for residents, and $250 for non-residents, in Minnesota. Trapping is allowed for wolves.

In Wisconsin, one of six hunting zones remained open today for wolf hunting. So far, 213 wolves from a total quota of 251 have been killed.

In the zone where hunting is still allowed, the quota is 71 wolves and 31 have been killed.

Trapping is allowed in Wisconsin. The wolf hunting season, which began Oct. 15, will continue until the harvest quota is met or Feb. 28. A resident license in Wisconsin costs $49 for a resident and $251 for non-residents.

Meanwhile, the number of deer spotted on vehicles heading south across the Mackinac Bridge was down 36 percent from last year as of 7 a.m. today.

Toll booth staff count the numbers of deer seen on vehicles and tallies are compiled three times each day.

At this morning’s compilation, 3,349 deer were counted so far, compared to 5,266 deer at this point in the season last year, the Mackinac Bridge Autnority said.

Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist in Marquette, said the effects of the tough late winter season continue to be evidenced in the numbers and age classes of deer hunters are observing.

“Last year’s winter was even harder than we thought it was,” Roell said.

Roell said much of the loss from last winter will be most clearly evident to hunters during next year’s firearm deer season.

Roell said the DNR will wait until it has all of its data compiled on the season before issuing more definitive statements about the season outcome or the ultimate toll of last winter.

The Marquette DNR check station had a couple of good days recently, improving its deer check totals for the season, Roell said. The station also registered one of the wolf kills on Friday.

“We’re inching closer toward that 10-year average,” Roell said.

However, across the region, the deer harvest continues to be trending lower than last year.

“We’re down everywhere,” Roell said.

The firearm deer season, which began Nov. 15, ends Saturday.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.