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23 Wolves Taken in Inagural Michigan Wolf Hunting Season

January 3rd, 2014

2014-01-01 wolf final

Less than 2% of the 1,200 licensed wolf hunters who took to the woods from November 15 through December 31 were successful in harvesting a wolf in Michigan’s first modern-day wolf hunt. After 23 wolves were taken out of the maximum quota of 43, the season is now closed in all Wolf Management Units.

Cold weather and snow may have been a factor, and deer hunters who also purchased a wolf tag may have not returned to the field to fill their wolf tag after firearm deer season ended. But anecdotally, hunters have responded that wolves were more elusive than expected once the season began. The DNR plans to survey wolf license holders to gather additional data (what was their level of hunting effort and what management units they hunted in) and are collecting data from the wolves harvested during the season. As Michigan does with every game species, this biological and hunter information will go towards developing recommendations on whether and when the wolf hunt should take place in 2014 and how it should be structured.

The number of licenses available and the maximum harvest quota was developed based on recommendations from DNR wildlife biologists, who also consulted with other states’ biologists who have overseen previous wolf hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Minnesota, hunters had a 4% success rate. The management hunt was devised to address numerous complaints of fearless or bold wolf encounters and direct human-wolf conflicts such as depredation of livestock and hunting dogs. The DNR will be analyzing the impacts of this wolf hunt over the long term to determine its impact on the wolf population and its interactions with people.

Overall, MUCC  believes this first wolf hunting season can be counted as a success. As we commonly say, one data point is just a snapshot in time, as is this first wolf season. We believe the new call in and notification system developed by the DNR was effective in notifying wolf hunters and the public of the daily harvest and status of the season and that the opportunity to buy a license was available to all hunters that wished to purchase one. While we wish there was more respect given to these legal hunters in the media and among certain segments of the public (the first successful Michigan wolf hunter declined to give his name to the media because of previous “death threats”), we hope that further education of the public on the critical importance of hunting and trapping to species conservation and management will help to improve this image and relationship between the hunters and trappers and non-hunting/trapping public.

MUCC will continue to advocate for the use of sound science to manage wolves and all fish and game species, whether its through hunting, fishing, trapping, habitat management, or other tools. You can get involved with this by signing and circulating a petition this winter; learn more at the website for Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management!

  • KMWP lies to the people

    It was a good season. The average is what was expected if you look at other states that hunted in lieu of trapping. Most know that it was the majority of downstate deer hunters that applied and they left after the first week. Cold wasn’t a factor it was who and where they were from was the factor. This years hunt will include trapping and the DNR will have to grow a pair and do what they know has to be done.

  • Ron

    Electronic wolf calling near my deer blind made the opening day very special, and the next several days as well. Lets not do the electronic calls during the opening week again.

  • Britspanman

    That is 23 less wolves to continue preying on our ever decreasing deer population. If the Feds want to transplant some wolves to Isle Royal, I know they can get a bunch from the U.P., the more the merrier.
    The Fed’s goal was for 300 wolves in MI to consider them recovered, but, due to Antihunter delaying tactics in the courts, the number increases to 550. This I firmly believe is a low-ball estimate by the DNR given their announced wolf annual recruitment rate of 14% published some 10 yrs. ago. I believe that the actual wolf population in MI is much closer to 1000 than to 550. A statistical population estimate has confidence limits around it to reflect 95% confidence. I believe that the DNR is publishing the low confidence limit, not the point estimate which is somewhere above the low and less than the high. When will they publish the point estimate and the high and low confidence limits? Therein lies the actual number of wolves in the state, but, primarily in the U.P. I encourage all you people below the bridge to welcome wolves to your deer yarding areas, maybe you will get the point.

    • Rork1

      ” on our ever decreasing deer population.”
      Got data? In 2013 I expect less UP deer, cause of weather, but I notice UP buck take was up in 2012, and about the same in 2011 as 2010, and the last few years have had the highest wolf densities. So in not-so-tough winters maybe herd increases despite killing by wolves, coyote, bear, car, bullet, and arrow. MN sees the same thing.

      It’s hard to set confidence bounds, cause the variability is not due to a sampling error. Search “Estimating Wolf Abundance in Michigan “. I’m more interested in change in the estimate than the exact number. 687 in 2011, 658 in 2013 (no estimate in 2012), perhaps a plateau after years of fairly steady increase.

      “primarily in the U.P.” – is that British understatement? And we may get the point someday – there’s ice on the Straits as I write, and our mismanagement of deer winter cover has probably been about as bad as in U.P., we just hear less about it. We still can’t regenerate cedar on our 80 acres in Presque Isle County, despite years of knocking the deer down.

      • Britspanman

        @Roark1: Most of our cedar swamps are 150-400 yrs. old and originated when deer were a rarity in most of MI because of the climax forest and the vast pine forest. These swamps became winter shelter and food for the burgeoning deer herd which took advantage of our cutting of the mature forest. At some point in time the DNR compared the economics of harvesting cedar on state land and the value of deer. They decided in favor of deer and the economics of hunting. After that they realized that most deer yards were on private property so they started a program of convincing forestry companies to reduce cedar harvest and leave the inner core of swamps intact. They also got funds earmarked from hunters to buy intact cedar and hemlock stands from private owners. So yes, it is almost impossible to regenerate cedar in the face of deer. However, if I had my druthers, I prefer to have a decent sized deer herd and large tracts of cedar and hemlock within which they can over-winter, so I approve of this DNR program. Now if you overharvested your cedar because of it’s economic benefit and you can’t get it to regenerate because of deer depredation, too bad. If you had left it alone you would still have cedar and you wouldn’t have to take it out on the deer, which are just following their natural instincts.
        Now as to wolves, there is a place on the MI landscape for, say 300, the goal of USFWS, but, not 2-3 times that many as currently exist. In your situation, I suspect you will welcome wolves to your area to help you reduce the deer numbers so your cedar can be regenerated. I sincerely, hope that happens so you will feel the angst that we Yoopers feel regarding wolves. Perhaps some of your neighbors or yourself have livestock or pets that will fall victim to your hoped for deer predators. Best of luck.

        • Rork1

          Well said.
          We still have some cedar, but attempting to expand it has been tough. Considering exclosures, maybe moved every 15 years.

          I don’t think anybody knows what the “right” number of wolves is. We may have a near-stable situation now, but maybe not.

          If we could create even more good yards, I am pretty sure that would help, even at current wolf density. Upland bird managers generally fiddle with habitat before predators, cause knocking down predators has less predictable effects. (For example if less wolves gives enough more coyotes – I was hoping the wolves would knock down yotes allot, but I’m less certain now.)

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