LANSING, Mich.—The Senate on Tuesday adopted resolutions urging the state to authorize wolf hunting and trapping this year.
“Allowing a managed wolf hunt is good science and good economics,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, who sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 and Senate Resolution 15. “It would be a viable means of ensuring stable wolf population numbers, allowing the population to be kept at levels that ensure its overall survival. Not only that, doing so would also limit increasing wolf-human conflicts and impacts on other wildlife, such as the deer herd.”
SCR 7 and SR 15 specifically urge the Natural Resources Commission to authorize, and the Department of Natural Resources to organize, wolf hunting and trapping as part of the state’s wolf management efforts beginning in 2021.
The resolutions recognize Michigan’s existing wolf management plan and the department for beginning the process of updating it, as well as the commission for setting a plan update deadline for the end of 2021; however, the resolutions underscore there is no statutory requirement or precedent to delay a 2021 wolf hunt while the plan is reviewed and updated and that the law is clear that the commission should, to the greatest extent practicable, utilize principles of sound scientific management in making decisions regarding the taking of game.
Michigan’s gray wolves have been protected under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1974, a time when they were in danger of going extinct and needed special protection to aid their recovery. However, the wolves were removed from federal protection in January, because Michigan’s current gray wolf population of almost 700 wolves exceeds by over three times the number of wolves biologists consider necessary to maintain a healthy population in the state.
The wolf population has met all federal recovery goals for delisting, both in terms of number of wolves and the stability of those numbers. Michigan achieved the minimum sustainable population goal of 200 wolves for five consecutive years in 2004 and have since surpassed state and federal population recovery goals for nearly 20 years.