Just this past January Michigans gray wolves (in the Great Lakes Region) have been taken off the endangered species list. Ten years ago there were 300 wolves roaming the Upper peninsula, and today that number has jumped to at least 700!
Some state lawmakers are considering making the gray wolf a game species, which could open the door for a hunting and trapping season for wolves. People are very passionate on both sides of this issue. Most of Michigan’s wolves are located in the Western half of the Upper Peninsula, but there have been a few reports of wolves migrating to the upper part of the lower peninsula. Many Yoopers would love to see the wolf number reduced, and some wouldn’t mind if they were totally eradicated. On the other hand there are those who would want a “live and let live” policy toward this mysterious predator.
My brother Darryl and his friends the Shinkles hunt around Crystal Falls in the U.P. I have hunted there several times myself, and over the past years have found signs of heavy wolf predation among the deer population. Four years ago I actually saw one standing in the road, as it stopped and stared in my direction. A big an impressive “killing machine” if ever there was one! For this reason alone many hunters and property owners wouldn’t mind seeing wolf numbers reduced. Most hunters in this area will tell you that the deer numbers have substantially dropped since the reintroduction of the wolf. Three years ago, on a bear hunt around Marquette, we had a pack of wolves venture into a bait sight. We were able to get their “howling” on tape, but they eluded any snapshots. Deer numbers in that area have also dropped dramatically.
According to Adam Bump, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the DNR is supportive of making the wolves a game species because it would give the agency another tool to help manage the animals. I’m quite sure that none of this is going to fly under the radar of the animal rights groups, and their big spending backers. Once the lawsuits start flying and politicians get involved the deer population will be in real trouble. Hope it doesn’t come to that, but a “fight” is no doubt looming on the horizon!