KENT COUNTY, Mich. — It’s been 50 years since Michigan’s wolves were in the cross-hairs. That could change as soon as November.
“What we’re looking at right now is the potential to add hunting as another tool to resolve conflict with wolves,” Russ Mason, the chief of Michigan’s DNR wildlife division said.
He said legalizing wolf hunting is strictly a management tool for the Department of Natural Resource’s perspective. He said wolves should have been taken off of the endangered species list a decade ago, but that didn’t happen until 2012.
“At that time, the legislature here in Michigan chose to move them from non-game to game status,” Mason explained.
“In the meantime, we have statutes in the state that allow folks to remove wolves if they’re seen attacking livestock, or they’re seen attacking your dog, or even jumping over the fence,” he said.
Jill Fritz is with the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign.
Her group is gathering signatures to get a referendum on the November 2014 ballot. That would allow voters to decide whether to legalize the hunting of wolves, not the legislature.
“There are currently only 687 of them in the Upper Peninsula. They’re not a real problem to anyone. They’re not harmful to humans. They’re not a danger to humans,” Fritz said.
She said, so far they’ve collected 200,000 signatures. That’s 50,000 more than what’s needed. She believes the statutes that allow pet and livestock owners to shoot are enough.
“So there’s no need to go a step further and institute an inhuman hunting season,” Fritz said.
The DNR is holding a series of public meetings on the issue.
Michigan isn’t the only Great Lakes state talking about it. Minnesota is considering reinstating a wolf hunting ban with a 5 year moratorium.