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By Steve Carmody
Photo of wolf. Credit – LITTLE TRAVERSE BAY BANDS OF ODAWA INDIANS
A state senate committee Wednesday approved a resolution to push state wildlife officials to authorize a wolf hunting season this year.
The resolution by State Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) calls on the Natural Resources Commission to authorize and the Department of Natural Resources to organize wolf hunting and trapping as part of this year’s wolf management efforts.
There are an estimated 700 wolves in Michigan, exclusively in the Upper Peninsula.
At the committee hearing, a series of witnesses from the Upper Peninsula, like Rory Mattson, the CEO of the Delta Conservation District, stressed this is a personal issue for them.
“We keep hearing about Michigan’s wolf population,” Mattson told the committee over a Zoom connection in Escanaba. “For us in the U.P., it’s not Michigan’s wolf population, it’s definitely the Upper Peninsula’s population.”
Supporters of a hunt blame wolves, in part, for declines in the U.P.’s deer population.
Sen. McBroom made a point of asking each witness during the two-hour hearing if they lived in the Upper Peninsula.
Most of the witnesses who oppose McBroom’s resolution do not live in the U.P.
But the critics made their opposition clear.
“Opening a wolf hunting and trapping season in Michigan is scientifically unsupportable,” testified Molly Tamulevich, state director of Humane Society of the United States.
The Trump administration removed grey wolves from the endangered species list. But the Biden administration is reviewing that decision.
State wildlife officials say they want to wait until the legal status of wolves is more permanently settled.
Michigan’s last sanctioned wolf hunt took place in 2013, when hunters killed 23 wolves.
Meanwhile this week in neighboring Wisconsin, hunters and trappers have exceeded the state’s wolf kill limit with several hours left in the brief season.
The Department of Natural Resources opened a season on Monday that was supposed to run through Sunday, with a kill limit of 119 animals.
It became clear on Tuesday that hunters and trappers were on pace to exceed that limit and the agency planned to end the hunt throughout the state by 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The department reported Wednesday morning that hunters and trappers had already killed 135 animals. Hunters and trappers also exceeded state quotas during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 wolf seasons.