Comments are open to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding hunting gray wolves in Michigan. The fear mongering about wolves is beginning in Michigan. The papers report, “A few have been spotted in the lower peninsula.” So is MI DNR suggesting that we hunt wolves to keep them out of the lower peninsula? The implication that the wolves will wreak havoc with farm animals, kill dogs and cats, which would be more than likely coyotes, is purposely misleading. Since there are a little over 4,000 wolves in the combined western Great Lakes, to think there are only a few in the LP is ludicrous. Michigan’s own 50-year study of predator/prey behavior on Isle Royale confirms a direct ratio between wolves and moose. Michigan’s DNR should surely know this. Michigan’s LP is full of deer. So there are probably more than a few wolves in the LP that have been there all along without incident.
A 3-year USDA study I’ve presented below is pretty hard to dismiss. It shows very little predation of cattle by radio collared wolves living around the perimeter of cattle fields. The argument that there are far more wolves than when the study took place in 98 is redundant. Many studies show that wolves are territorial. Wolves keep populations of coyotes down because of it. Many organizations and wolf researcher Sean Ellis report that wolves honor each other’s territory, so the likelihood that wolf packs would have increased around that same cattle field today is unlikely.
I doubt MI DNR truly has a handle on wolf numbers since they are just now spotting wolves in the LP. I’ve noticed parvo virus is seldom in the conversation about wolf populations. Parvo can and has taken up to 25% of all wolf pups periodically and was introduced by dogs/pets, another horrible experience we’ve given to wolves that greatly reduces their numbers. Has MI DNR reported about parvo among wolves at all?
There isn’t any real science behind this proposed hunt if you look at all the studies of wolves. It’s about the sport hunting industry and money. Michigan needs money. What science looks to cull a species that just came off the Endangered List, which means danger of extinction, especially when a major premise in court battles over wolves is premature delisting? The wolves stay on the list until their numbers are sustainable and right away they need to be culled? That’s illogical and cruel. This is about the big sport hunting lobby again.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance or USSA has advised that “it is preparing comment supporting Michigan and Wisconsin’s effort to gain the ability to manage wolves that are killing PETS, INCLUDING HUNTING DOGS, AND ALSO LIVESTOCK. What did I tell ya? The sport hunting industry is sounding the alarm and creating a facade of need. They like to promote Teddy Roosevelt’s “conservation through hunting” when it is nothing but lobbying for the right to kill anything, a far cry from Teddy’s idea of conserving so to hunt that which is bountiful and plentiful. The ability to hunt anything, endangered, struggling, near extinction, exotic, trapped in a fenced area/canned, baiting, etc., is what the USSA and the like donate the really big money to for conservation.
According to HSUS:
The USSA supports the trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species.
The USSA has supported amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act to provide for the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada.
The USSA fiercely opposes federal legislation to halt the shooting of tame, exotic animals in fenced enclosures or CANNED HUNTS.
The USSA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing efforts to limit bear baiting.
The USSA has opposed the creation of any new national parks that restrict hunting, even though national parks—from Yellowstone to Yosemite to the Everglades—have long restricted the hunting of wildlife, both for the benefit of wildlife and the public safety of visitors.
The Ohio-based USSA has led the charge to open sport hunting seasons on mourning doves. Michigan voters finally ended that quest showing that the general public does not condone sport/trophy hunting.
Conservation by its very definition is an occurrence of improvement by virtue of preventing loss or injury or other change. Hunting on the other hand is the pursuit and killing or capture of wild animals regarded as sport. The two don’t mix and never have. Yet, conservation through hunting ideology is misconstrued by the general public to mean much needed management that improves the species somehow. The best creature at doing that is the wolf that serves to prey on the unguarded young or the feeble (through age and sickness), yet we seek to eliminate wolves and use man for management instead. Man by contrast as a predator seeks the biggest and best for trophy. It’s hardly the way to improve the health and well being of a species taking the very best. So sport/trophy hunting has no valid scientific or natural value for any species including wolves.
Hunting across the nation is down, a real minority at 5-7% of the population. Although more people view hunting as favorable, a drastic drop in favorability happens when it’s sport or trophy hunting. So overall hunting to most Americans is all right if it serves a real purpose. This is where fear mongering about wolves and the misconception of conservation through hunting becomes real handy to spread around.
So when hunters claim they pay for “conservation” by buying hunting licenses, duck stamps, etc., the relatively small amount each hunter pays does not cover the cost of hunting programs or game warden salaries. The public lands many hunters use are supported by taxpayers. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs, which benefit hunters, get most of their funds from general tax revenues, not hunting fees. Funds benefiting “non-game” species are scarce. Hunters kill more animals than recorded tallies indicate. It is estimated that, for every animal a hunter kills and recovers, at least two wounded but unrecovered animals die slowly and painfully of blood loss, infection, or starvation. Those who don’t die often suffer from disabling injuries,” according to In Defense of Animals or IDA. Also, culling animals that mate for life like wolves is cruel. It fractures packs/families, and by doing so seeks to destroy more wolves than the one that is killed, like the abadoned wolf pup pictured below. It’s hardly scientific to indiscriminantly kill wolves.
If taxpayers pay for much of the ground being hunted, big, big donations by the wealthy minority of trophy hunters is more or less buying the right to hunt anything and everything without basis.
Michigan’s UP has the greatest concentration of wolves. According to Defenders of Wildlife, “livestock owners in the western Great Lakes region are searching for ways to share the landscape with this top-level carnivore. Although livestock losses to wolves are rare (less than 1 percent of livestock losses are caused by wolves), even one loss to a farmer can be a financial burden.”
Sharing the landscape can be accomplished. Michigan farms experiencing conflicts with wolves have had great results using Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs—no predation at all. The use of fladry works, bright red/orange flags on a thin rope. The movement scares wolves. There are proven methods to live together peacefully with nature, especially when predation is so low.
And if a loss to livestock does occur how much of a financial burden is it?
More livestock subsidies by the Federal Government April 6, 2010 — Ken Cole.
5-year “demonstration project” to compensate ranchers and fund proactive, non-lethal activities.
The USFWS has announced how it will disperse $1 million annually to the states with wolves for 5 years. This funding was approved in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 which created several wilderness areas such as the Owyhee Wilderness in southern Idaho.
The law specifies that equal amounts of the funding must be used “(1) to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves; and (2) to compensate livestock producers for livestock losses due to such predation.”
One comment from a blogger: “No doubt there will be pressure to change how the money is spent so that more of it will go towards compensation of ranchers rather than proactive, non-lethal activities.”
Has MI DNR or USFWS bothered to advance any of the techniques above like providing and/or instructing farmers about the use of Great Pyrenees dogs, or fladry among the farmers in the Upper Peninsula where wolf concentration is higher? Or does the DNR just want to shoot them—for the money?
It’s odd to me that the USFWS just received a million dollars annually for 5 years to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce predation by wolves that’s estimated to be only around 1% in this area, and then turns around an opens the subject of wolf hunts in Michigan for comment before wolves are ever off the Endangered List.
This new federal money is even more taxpayer dollars to avert hunting wolves. But then again maybe it isn’t enough compared to what USSA or some other huge sport hunting entity is offering?
I’m a little disgusted with our federal and state agencies who are not working on behalf of wildlife at all at this point under Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar. The Obama Administration pledged it would make decisions based on science. Wolves are being unscientifically singled out again because they are easy to demonize yet the wolf is part of Native American heritage no different than the eagle. In some native cultures, the wolf is part of their creation story, and/or regarded as a teacher of mankind. Imagine the fuss if we opened trophy hunting on eagles like we’re quick to do to wolves. Eagles are plentiful, and growing even larger. Look at the damage eagles cause:
Golden eagles are more likely to prey on livestock than are bald eagles. Both species readily feed on livestock carrion and carcasses left by foxes and coyotes, although some individuals prefer live prey to carrion. Eagles are efficient predators and can cause severe losses of young livestock, particularly where concentrations of eagles exist. Generally, they prey on young animals, primarily lambs and kids, although they are capable of killing adults. Eagles also take young deer and pronghorns, as well as some adults.
Why aren’t we hunting eagles? Do we really know what kills livestock, cats, or dogs, if it’s even happening, or is it more profitable just to blame wolves? The USDA bothered to radio collar wolves to be sure who the culprit was when livestock were found dead.
Our tax money pays for the public lands, funding USFWS programs, and the current 5-year “demonstration project” to fund proactive, non-lethal activities and most taxpayers do not condone sport/trophy hunting . . Yet more credence seems to be given to the big hunting industry than the average American footing the bill, or the subject of hunting wolves in Michigan wouldn’t even be open for comment. This needs to stop. Michigan does not need to go the way of Idaho, or Wyoming where wolves have been ruthlessly slaughtered for sport and trophy with major events scheduled and promoted by the likes of Cabela’s.
If people were more informed, wolves wouldn’t be under the gun. There is no solid reason for hunting them here or elsewhere. There is no evidence that the USFWS directed Michigan’s DNR to instruct farmers or those supposedly threatened by gray wolves with non-lethal deterrents or programs like it like it either. Our money pays for the USFWS to do that. Quite frankly there has been very little reported about wolf problems in Michigan until now when delisting wolves looks likely. Right off the Endangered List wolves are being targeted again in yet another state because they are easy to demonize.
Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification. ”
— Farley Mowat
READ THE USDA STUDY OF RADIO-COLLARED WOLVES:
ANDREAS S. CHAVEZ,1 Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
ERIC M. GESE,2 United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center,
Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Wolves (Canis lupus) have expanded their distribution into areas of the midwest United States that have not had wolves for several decades. With recolonization of wolves into agricultural areas, there is increasing concern of wolf–livestock conflicts. To assess the risk wolves may pose to livestock, we initiated a 3-year study investigating the activity patterns, movements, habitat use, visitation to livestock pastures by wolves, and the occurrence of depredation events in an agricultural–wildland matrix in northwestern Minnesota, USA. From June 1997 to November 1999, we captured 23 wolves, including pups, from 3 packs; we radio collared 16 of these wolves. We tracked radioed wolves intensively on a 24-hour basis during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1998 and 1999. We found wolves passed directly through a pasture containing cattle on 28% of the nights of tracking; 58% and 95% of the wolf locations were _1 km and _5 km from a pasture, respectively. Space use of wolves showed that while they visited livestock pastures during the 24-hour tracking sessions, they apparently were passing through these pastures with cattle and not preying on livestock. When compared to random simulations of movements, wolves appeared to encounter livestock pastures randomly. Thirty percent of random movements passed directly through a pasture; 65% and 95% of random movements were within _1 km and _5 km of a pasture, respectively. Wolves were more active at night than during the day. Wolves avoided pastures during the day and visited pastures at night when depredations were most likely (i.e., human presence was low). Visitation of livestock pastures was not related to any discernible characteristics of the pastures (i.e., pasture size, cattle density, distance to human habitation, percent forest cover, index of deer abundance). However, pastures in which livestock were killed by wolves contained more cattle than pastures without depredations, but in 1998 only. While the risk of wolf predation on livestock was potentially high (wolves were within _1 km of a pasture on 58% of nights), few livestock were actually killed. During the 3-year study, only 8 animals (all young or vulnerable livestock) were depredated by wolves. Maintaining healthy wild prey populations, removing offending wolves that kill livestock, and encouraging effective and proper husbandry practices (e.g., disposal of carcasses) among livestock producers, should allow for the persistence of wolves in northwestern Minnesota, USA, while minimizing their impact to farmers in this agriculture–wildland matrix. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 70(4):1079–1086; 2006).
This is a picture of unlikely animals friends. The wolf pup was abadoned and this male Rottweiler adopted it, cleaning and guarding the wolf pup. They live at Kisma Preserve in Maine. The two were inseparable playing together and howling at the moon in duet. The founder of the preserve, Heather Grierson, says the pup has been spending time with other wolves now to learn the ropes. Other photos like this appeared in the May 10th Woman’s World. They are adorable pictures, especially a chimp cradling a baby tiger cub, one of a set of twins adopted by the chimp.
Send comments against open trophy hunting to permitsR3ES@fws.gov
By regular mail to:
Attn: Peter Fasbender
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services
1 Federal Drive
Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056