Thursday, November 15, 2012

Should we hunt wolves in Michigan?

Should people be able to hunt these creatures? Some Michigan lawmakers
are looking at that possibility.
(Flickr photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region)

Have you ever seen a wolf?

I haven't, but I've heard their howls while up north on Isle Royale. They recently came off the endangered species list here in Michigan, and now some lawmakers are toying with the idea of opening a wolf hunting season.

With rifle season beginning today, most hunters are in their blinds this morning, waiting for 8-point bucks to come out. But soon, they could be looking for the elusive wolf, and I'm curious to see where most people stand on it.

Wolves in Michigan came off the endangered in January, allowing for more flexibility when dealing with wolves that threaten a human or livestock. While still listed as "protected," more wolves are beginning to flock and breed in the Upper Peninsula. Estimates place this number near 700 wolves.

With their recent removal and growth, a senator from Escanaba, Republican Tom Casperson, recently introduced legislation that would allow for some hunters to kill the wild dogs. The bills has cleared a Senate committee and currently faces the full Senate. State Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, introduced similar legislation in the state House.

If approved, the bill calls for resident licenses to hunt wolves to cost $100, and would place restrictions on how many wolves could be harvested.

But some folks aren't pleased with the move, notably several Native American tribes. From Michigan Radio:
Many of the Indian tribes in Michigan are opposed to this legislation right now, and that's primarily because they feel the wolf has a special status for them. It figures importantly in many of their creation stories. They consider the wolf to be a brother or part of their kin.
Wolf hunts have officially started for the first time in Minnesota earlier this month, and hunters have almost filled the state's designated quota. Almost 200 wolves have been harvested in Minnesota since it started Nov. 3, the quota for the first half of the season.

I am no hunter or a farmer, so I have little to offer in experience. Wolves don't seem to be the type of creatures I would hunt, most notably because they aren't something I (or several other people) would eat; the hunt is primarily for the sport and the fur.

Should this be something that gets looked at closer? And should we allow for wolf hunting in our state? 

UPDATE: The Michigan Senate approved the legislation allowing for gray wolves to be hunted today, Nov. 29, by a vote of 23-15.