Michigan’s Inaugural Wolf Hunt Debuts in November
In recent years, farmers and residents have complained about wolf attacks on livestock and family pets as the population continues to grow and expand its range. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had been pushing for a limited hunt to help reduce the number of wolves in parts of the Upper Peninsula, home to an estimated 658 wolves.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on May 8 signed a bill empowering the Natural Resources Commission to decide whether to allow wolf hunting. A day after Snyder signed Senate Bill 288 into law, the commission, on a 6 to 1 vote, approved regulations for Michigan's inaugural wolf hunt this fall, making Michigan the sixth state to authorize the hunting of wolves since federal protections were removed. It set the total harvest at 43 animals.
Animal protection groups did their best to force a statewide vote on the issue. The state Board of Canvassers on May 22 certified petition signatures gathered by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected to put a wolf hunting referendum before voters in Nov. 2014. Although 161,305 valid signatures were needed to qualify for the ballot, referendum supporters collected 255,000 signatures by the March 27 deadline. The ballot measure was rendered moot, however, with the signing of the bill on May 8.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected wanted to suspend Public Act 520 which designated wolves as a game species. Under previous law, only the Michigan Legislature had the power to designate a game species. It was then up to the Natural Resources Commission to determine if there should be a hunting season. The only dissenter was Commissioner Annoesjka Steinman of Muskegon, whom Snyder appointed to the seven-member panel last year.
The Upper Peninsula's first wolf hunt is scheduled between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31. The harvest of 43 wolves - roughly 7 percent of the estimated herd, is restricted to three zones. Zone one includes a portion of Gogebic County and the city of Ironwood. The second zone encompasses portions of Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties while the third hunting zone is in portions of Luce and Mackinac counties.