The Opener: Wolf Management Not Black or White

Wolves Photo: Michigan Tech U/AP
Fresh off the confusing 2014 ballot language, a slew of signature gathering, and a lot of false advertising from HSUS, maybe you feel like we are done with this issue. And we are, mostly.
This time, it's not a vote; it's not black or white, it's (appropriately enough) all shades of gray when it comes to actual on-the-ground gray wolf management in Michigan.
Below you will see the DNR's Press Release regarding an opportunity for the public to weigh in as the DNR updates the Michigan Wolf Management Plan. MUCC and many hunting, agriculture, tribal, environmental, and animal welfare groups joined together as part of the Wolf Roundtable that helped guide the development of the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan.
As the DNR updates the plan, this is not necessarily the place to say--"Yes, I support a wolf season", "I oppose a wolf hunt" or "SS&S". This is a chance to give the DNR feedback on how well they did in implementing various aspects of wolf management since they went under state management in 2012, which includes education, communications, research, and actual management of conflicts and the population. The goals will remain the same: the wolf population will remain viable and sustainable, and we should look for opportunities to facilitate the benefits, minimize the conflicts, and conduct scientifically-based management accordingly.
So here's your change to get into the details that a flyer, a 30-second ad or a Yes/No check mark in November doesn't give us. It's time to get into the weeds.
And if you are interested, here's our preliminary examination of the last two years of wolf management.
MUCC believes that future management should necessarily include licensed trappers, should expand into areas experiencing new or increased conflicts, and that the population and harvest should be monitored diligently. In terms of areas for improvement, we believe that citizens aware of illegal wolf kill should be encouraged to report them to law enforcement immediately and that these illegal actions should be severely punished just as with other big game species. More can also be done to inform the public on state and individual actions that are taken or can be taken to minimize conflicts. General public education is also needed to describe the importance of wolves in the ecosystem and their impact (positive and negative) on prey populations.
But we are certain you would like to share your thoughts too! Read the DNR's Release below and follow the link to the survey, which will close on December 11.

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Comments sought for update of Wolf Management Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 12, 2014
Contacts: Kevin Swanson, 906-226-1357 or 906-458-1889
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan and is seeking comment on the implementation of the plan. The plan, and more specifically the four principal goals within the plan, has guided wolf management in Michigan for the last six years.
During this time, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wolf population in the western Great Lakes region (including Michigan) had recovered and the species no longer required the protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). After the removal from the ESA, the State of Michigan had full management authority for wolves.
The Wolf Management Plan was created using extensive public input to identify important issues and assess public attitudes towards wolves and their management, as well as a review of the biological and social science on wolves. The four principal goals within the plan are:
  • maintain a viable wolf population;
  • facilitate wolf-related benefits;
  • minimize wolf-related conflicts;
  • and conduct science-based and socially acceptable management of wolves.
These goals will remain the same in the updated plan. The update will include reviewing scientific literature and including of new information, evaluating implementation based on the action items in the plan, updating action items, and addressing outdated information or clarifications that may be needed.
The DNR is seeking comment from those interested in wolf management to aid in the evaluation of plan implementation so far. Review of the plan update will occur in two distinct phases. The first phase will consist of a 30-day period in which interested parties, DNR staff members and Natural Resources Commission members can provide comment on the implementation of actions in the 2008 Plan. The second phase will be a 30-day period to comment on the Draft Updated Plan before it goes to the Natural Resource Commission for endorsement and the DNR director for signature.
The Phase 1 electronic survey is now open (www.surveymonkey.com/s/wolfplanupdate). The survey is structured around 12 strategic goals and corresponding actions within the 2008 plan. Those interested in wolf management are encouraged to provide input. Comments will be accepted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 11. Those unable to participate in this survey electronically are asked to contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 to receive a paper survey.
The DNR hopes to have the wolf plan update completed by spring of 2015.

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