Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
Why it matters: Following the removal of gray wolves from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife, the newly formed Michigan Wolf Management Advisory Council is seeking public input on the best way to manage the states wolf population. CSF, which has long maintained that state fish and wildlife agencies are the entities best equipped to make decisions regarding the management of our public trust fish and wildlife resources, voiced support for the use of hunting and trapping, as regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to assist in the management of the state’s wolf population. This comment period represents the first step in a process that is expected to continue long into the future. However, CSF believes that all management options need to be available to the Department and that hunting and trapping are proven practices that can contribute to the management of a healthy and sustainable population.
Ahead of their inaugural meeting on August 4, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the Michigan Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) encouraging the WMAC to recommend the use of hunting and trapping as authorized management practices as long as the population surveys conducted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicate that active management is needed to maintain a healthy and sustainable wolf population in the state.
Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife after it was determined that Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin had met and exceeded their established population goals. This decision returned management authority to the DNR, the entity best equipped to make science-based management decisions regarding the state’s public trust fish and wildlife resources. The Great Lakes Region has successfully exceeded their wolf population goals by large margins. The Revised Recovery Plan of 1992 defined a Minnesota population goal of 1,250 – 1,400 individuals and 100 individuals each for five consecutive years in both Michigan and Wisconsin. According to the latest surveys, there are now well over 2,000 wolves in Minnesota, and Michigan and Wisconsin have exceeded their targets of 100 individuals each year since 1994.
Because of this success, CSF applauds the decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list and to return wolf management authority to the states. In Michigan, the WMAC was created to study and make recommendations on the best way to manage the state’s wolf population. CSF asked the council to recommend that the DNR utilize all appropriate options to facilitate the proper management of Michigan’s wolf population. Specifically, the letter asked that, as long as the science supports the harvesting of wolves, the DNR should be allowed to enlist the help of sportsmen and women by permitting the use of hunting and trapping to ensure a healthy and sustainable wolf population. Hunting and trapping are key parts to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which has contributed to the successful restoration of numerous species once in danger of extinction.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?