To the editor:
On November 21st hunters will enter the Upper Peninsula's woods hunting the most feared and symbolic predator in North America - the wolf.
Wolves in Michigan have battled back from their near extinction in the late 1970s to a booming population of 658 individuals in regions of the Upper Peninsula. Recovery programs started in the early 80's have reached their target goals and the Eastern Timber Wolf was delisted as an endangered and threatened species in 2009.
Michigan's DNR has opted for a similar wolf management plan like its neighbors in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This year marks the second year of the wolf hunt in these two states. The Minnesota DNR over-predicted the appropriate number of wolves to be harvested last year and caused a drop in the state's wolf population. Wisconsin harvested 200 wolves last winter which had no effect on the wolf population of today. Michigan is setting a modest quota of 42 wolves for harvest to ensure that there will be no negative impact to the future population.
The DNR hopes to reduce the number of depredation incidents by opening the regions for hunting where packs have the highest amount of depredation to livestock.
The hunt will instill a greater fear of humans in wolves. This will also reduce the amount of depredation along with attacks on dogs.
Many argue that Michigan's wolf population is still too new and small for a hunt and that the population may take a huge hit like in Minnesota. I believe however that this hunt will actually increase the wolf population in years to come. Now that it's legal to hunt wolves, the hunters will want to make sure that there will be wolves for them to hunt in the coming years. With this realization more funds and time will be directed to benefit Michigan's wolves.
The restoration of wolves into the ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula filled in a gap in the food web. Being a keystone predator, wolves keep the populations of multiple different species in the food web balanced. A reduce dependency on depredation will result in more natural prey kills, helping to maintain sustainable populations.
Unlike the wolf hunts in the past, the goal of this hunt isn't to completely eradicate the wolf from Michigan.
This wolf hunt instead is testament to the remarkable recovery of the Eastern Timber Wolf to the Midwest.