Wolf Management: What’s Going On (or Not)?May 14th, 2012
A group of stakeholders called the “Wolf Forum” met together with the DNR back in June 2011; this group was similar in make up to the original Wolf Roundtable who helped develop recommendations for the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan. At that time, the DNR shared data and information, while committing to bringing us together again following the federal delisting to provide updates and input on the implementation of the state management plan.
Wolves were officially delisted on January 27, 2012. Inquiries have been made since that time as to the status of the Wolf Forum, and basically the DNR’s response has been that the Wildlife Division is undergoing staffing realignment so it is yet unclear where wolves will fall in the new job descriptions.
So whose job is it anyway?
Since the federal delisting, the state has assumed management authority over wolves. Unfortunately, also during that time, Wildlife Division staff have left the DNR and moved positions leaving major holes throughout; many people are performing in acting capacities, and responsibilities are growing and shifting for those staff members who remain. Funding is and will always remain an issue. Yes, managing wildlife with a declining budget is difficult, but it’s a changing and challenging world we live in.
But that does not give the DNR the ability to put off a major actions related to implementing the wolf management plan, especially since MUCC and so many organizations and individuals committed years of work and advocacy to remove wolves from the federal endangered species list and create this model plan for wolf management.
The Wolf Forum or a similar group of stakeholders MUST be brought together soon, very soon in fact, to continue the conversation about wolf management in Michigan.
MUCC is frustrated at the lack of communications from the DNR on the implementation of the management plan to-date. This plan has been in place for the last 4 years and (now that wolves are officially off the list) calls on the DNR to be the leader to:
- Coordinate with management partners to develop and implement a wolf-based information and education program;
- Collect data, in collaboration with other state agencies and other partners, to closely evaluate the status of wolves in the western Great Lakes;
- Minimize and manage wolf-related conflicts; and the big one
- “If biologically defensible, legally feasible, and supported by the public, develop a program to offer opportunities for the public to harvest wolves for recreational or utilitarian purposes.”
We want clear communications and a timeline for achieving these actions outlined in the management plan.
Until hunters and trappers can help assist with sustainably managing this wolf population in Michigan, its critical to have SOMEONE available to call on to manage wolf-related conflicts in the meantime.
Can we count on anyone responding?