Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Killing wolves in Michigan

It’s not allowed, first of all. At least not right now.
That would be why a Gladwin man had the law handed to him for killing one in the Upper Peninsula.
Perhaps he was just impatient or uninformed, or maybe he just thought he could get away with it. Note to all others who desire to kill a wolf themselves: the wolves still have collars. When you kill one, a mortality signal goes off and officials investigate.
The hunter, 47-year-old Michael Greaves, received $500 in fines and $1,500 in restitution during his sentencing recently in St. Ignace, where the wolf was killed. Read the full story here.
Greaves and all others who want to hunt wolves would be well-advised to simply wait. Their day is coming.
Wolves were listed as an endangered species in 1973 and have been fully protected since 1965. Interestingly enough, when wolves had disappeared from all but two places in the lower 48 states, Michigan had one of those two places with its Isle Royale. Other than there, however, wolves — which had once been present in all 83 of Michigan’s counties — were as good as extinct.
In the 1980s, sightings of lone wolves in the Upper Peninsula began being reported. In 1991, a confirmed pair of wolves gave birth to pups and were heralded as the first documented wolves on Michigan’s mainland in 35 years.
At the time, 64 percent of people polled in the Upper Peninsula and 57 percent of those polled in the Lower Peninsula were supportive of having the wolf population recover.
Today, it has — at least in the Upper Peninsula.
Criteria for wolves to be delisted as an endangered species in Michigan is having a population of more than 100 wolves between Michigan and Wisconsin for five consecutive years. According to the state’s website, we have achieved that and beyond.
“The combined population has exceeded 100 wolves every year since 1994 and currently includes more than 1,000 wolves,” states the website.
Current numbers are counting Michigan’s population at 580 wolves. In May 2009, wolves were delisted from the endangered species list in our state, but apparently there was a problem with the move because public comment was not gathered beforehand.
The delisting process has begun again. Look for opportunities to comment on the matter.
My latest conversations with the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment have me believing that as of yet, there have been no confirmed sightings of gray wolves in the Lower Peninsula. I imagine that won’t last forever, though. (UPDATE: the MDNRE is reporting that wolves have now been sighted in the Lower Peninsula. I need to gather some more information, but look for a blog post all about this in the future!)
Meanwhile, having the wolves delisted means the state will begin a management program, which will probably include a hunting element — a tightly regulated one, I hope.
So, Mr. Greaves should’ve just waited and then, he’d be paying no fines and having no newspaper articles written about him.

Gray wolf facts (from
• Adult gray wolves average 30 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh about 65 pounds
• Paws are 3.5 inches wide, 4.5 inches long. Coyote paws are much smaller — 1.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches long.
• Wolves eat deer, beaver, snowshoe hare, rodents and other small mammals.
• The wolf is Michigan’s only canid species to hunt in social units. Coyotes hunt alone, with rare exceptions for when coyotes are training their pups to hunt.
• Wolves do not need large, undisturbed tracts of wilderness to survive, but they do need large areas of contiguous forest. A pack of gray wolves will roam an area of at least 100 square miles — roughly a ninth of the size of Oakland County.
• Michigan’s average pack size is about six wolves, but can be as small as two depending on how much prey is available in their range.

Wolf population information and other facts from

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