The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating the state’s wolf management plan and seeking public input through an online poll through the end of the month regarding the future of the management of wolves.
The current plan, created in 2008 and updated in 2015, was developed using public input to identify important issues and assess public attitudes towards wolves and their management and by examining the biological and social sciences relevant to the management of wolves. New public feedback gathered on the 2015 plan will help inform an updated plan that will be completed this year.
“Science can help predict the outcome of different management actions, but it doesn’t tell us which action is ‘right’,” Cody Norton, DNR large carnivore specialist, said in an email. âPublic input plays an important role in understanding the perception of different management actions and expected results for a variety of stakeholders. These perceptions can change over time, so it is important that we periodically collect and incorporate this information into our management goals, strategies and objectives. ”
The four main goals of the 2015 plan are: to maintain a viable wolf population, facilitate wolf benefits, minimize wolf-related conflict, and conduct science-based and socially acceptable wolf management. Norton said some of the ways MNR assesses progress in achieving these goals include estimating the Upper Peninsula wolf population through the MNR Winter Wolf Trail survey, l ” investigating wolf sighting reports submitted in the Lower Peninsula, monitoring levels of livestock depredation, domestic dog depredation and wolf activity reports and tracking changes in public attitudes towards wolves by periodically conducting scientific surveys.
Norton said there may be a trade-off between providing additional wolf-related benefits and reducing wolf-related conflict, especially when those are related to changes in wolf abundance. When available, MNR requests a federal grant program for a wolf breeding demonstration project that can be used to deter depredation of livestock by wolves through non-lethal techniques. Other aspects of wolf management are funded by a combination of federal and state funding sources, depending on the type of work being done, whether it is habitat management, research and monitoring, outreach and engagement, etc.
The plan and these primary goals have guided wolf management in Michigan for the past 13 years. Update 2022 will include recent scientific literature and new information regarding wolves in Michigan.
“We are working with researchers at the State University of New York to update a document that accompanies and informs the Wolf Management Plan titled” A Review of the Biological and Social Sciences Relevant to the Management of Wolves in Michigan “” Norton said in an email. âThis document was last updated in 2006 prior to the initial development of the wolf management plan in 2008. We are also working with researchers at Michigan State University to conduct a new survey of public attitudes towards wildlife. wolf management, which will be incorporated into the previously mentioned document. document and will also inform the plan. All of this new information will ensure that we have the best scientific data available to predict the outcomes of different management actions and to understand the attitudes of Michigan stakeholders toward different management options. ”
Michigan’s gray wolf population was nearly wiped out in the mid-1970s due to persecution and active predator control programs in the early 20th century. Today, Michigan’s wolf population numbers nearly 700 in the Upper Peninsula. Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in early 2021, a decision currently being challenged in court.
Norton said there are opportunities for members of the public, whether they hunt or not, to contribute to the goals, strategies and objectives of the plan by providing accurate information about wolves to other members of the public, by submitting wolf sighting or activity reports. , report the illegal killing of wolves or manage habitat on their property for wolf prey.
Norton added that deliberately feeding wolves, properly disposing of carcasses of livestock, keeping livestock near man-made structures, keeping certain breeds of dogs or donkeys with livestock, avoiding hunting with scent hounds in areas with Hunting dogs have recently occurred and report humans, livestock, or pets Dog conflicts at the DNR are steps Michiganders can take to reduce the risk of wolf / human / livestock conflict. People can visit www.michigan.gov/wolves for the maps of verified depredations.
âOnce we have public input, we will incorporate it in conjunction with input from our Wolf Management Advisory Council (WMAC) and consultation with tribal governments, as well as new information from our scientific review and investigation. public attitude in a wolf update project. management plan, âNorton said via email. âThere will be an additional opportunity for the public and the WMAC and tribal governments to comment on the updated draft plan at that time. Once this contribution is incorporated into the plan, it will be submitted to the Director and the Natural Resources Commission for their input and final approval and signature by the Director. We plan to complete the update to the wolf management plan by the end of June of this year. “
Norton said the composition of the Wolf Management Advisory Council is specified in state law as requiring representatives of a tribal government, conservation organization, hunting or fishing organization, interests agriculturalists and an animal rights organization, as well as the DNR. Anyone in the state can be considered a stakeholder, but Norton said this is seen as a good representation of who the primary stakeholders are in relation to the content of the wolf management plan. He stressed the importance of working with tribal governments through government-to-government consultations, which he said is very different from collecting feedback from other stakeholder groups.
Those interested in providing feedback are encouraged to complete the online survey by January 31. Norton said MNR expects a lot of feedback on the plan and is already at nearly 3,000 responses.
For more information on Michigan’s wolves, including links to the state’s wolf survey and management plan, visit www.michigan.gov/wolves. Norton said there would be an additional opportunity to comment on the updated draft wolf management plan.
– Contact reporter Taylor Worsham at [email protected]