Michigan lawmakers will consider opening a hunting season for gray wolves. A state representative from the Upper Peninsula introduced a bill last week.
Federal wildlife officials just removed the animals from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes area earlier this year, but the population has been way above the target set for recovery for most of the last decade.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs have been pushing to classify wolves as game animals, saying money from hunting licenses would help to better manage wolves.
“You open the door to so much more time and effort and money to track and monitor and insure that this species is going to thrive into the future,” says M.U.C.C.’s Kent Wood.
Now that wolves are de-listed, residents can shoot those that are threatening their livestock or pets. With that protection in place, opponents think a wolf hunt is unnecessary.
“Well we don’t think it’s necessary,” says Ed Golder, a DNR spokesman. “But we think if the legislature wants to approve this we could certainly use it as a tool. It’s just a matter of conscientiously managing the wolf population.”
But tension has been high in the U.P., and the head of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was in the area this week, telling farmers that have had wolves attacking their livestock that the state ought to give hunters the opportunity to control such problems.
Under a voter approved referendum passed more than a decade ago, resource managers are supposed to use the best available science in making decisions.