CSF Calls on State Officials to Support Wolf Hunting and Trapping

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

Why it Matters: The Endangered Species Act was created to help species who are both at risk of extinction and whose future is uncertain in the United States. Species on the list are provided with protections and funding for conservation efforts to ensure their recovery. Since its inception, 54 species have been delisted due to recovery, while another 56 species have been downlisted from endangered to threatened. In recent years, attempts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist species like grizzly bears and gray wolves have been met with litigation by environmental groups, and many USFWS decisions have been reversed, despite these species reaching preestablished recovery goals. If the best available research suggests that a species has met its population goal, it should be delisted and management authority over the species should be returned to state fish and wildlife agencies, who have a long history of successfully managing fish and wildlife populations. There are many species on the list that need our attention, and we should not be wasting our time, effort, and money on species that, according to the best available science, have recovered.  

On January 27, The Michigan House Natural Recourses Committee passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 (SCR 7) – a resolution asking the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to institute a wolf hunting and trapping season as part of their wolf management plan. The resolution also calls for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to implement a wolf hunting and trapping season in 2022. CSF’s Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia testified before the committee on the importance sound scientific-based wolf management to ensure that the Great Lake State’s wolf population remains healthy and sustainable.  

In support of SCR 7, CSF pointed to The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (Model) which charges state fish and wildlife agencies with the management of fish and wildlife populations as public trust resources for the benefit of all citizens. This Model serves as the foundations for arguably the most successful wildlife management system in the world and has contributed to successful restoration of numerous species once in danger of extinction. Among the tenants of this Model is the Public Trust Doctrine which states that our wildlife belongs to all Americans, and wildlife populations must be managed to ensure they will be sustained into perpetuity.

State fish and wildlife agencies must be able to use all available management techniques, including consumptive harvest through legal, regulated hunting and trapping opportunities. These tools, when combined with the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user-pays, public-benefits” structure that provides the bulk of state-based fish and wildlife conservation funding in the U.S., allow sportsmen and women to harvest an appropriate number of animals to ensure overall population health. Conservation efforts are further supported through the purchase of licenses and the excise tax from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment. 

CSF continues to support state fish and wildlife agencies, including the NRC, as the entities best equipped to manage fish and wildlife populations. Hunting and trapping can help maintain the wolf population below its maximum carrying capacity to ensure that the population remains healthy while reducing the risk of wolf-human conflict and ensuring the health of other wildlife populations.

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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?

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