Michigan Legislature OKs bill authorizing wolf hunts

Dec 15, 2012 Full story: Green Bay Press-Gazette

Michigan moved to the brink of establishing hunting seasons for the gray wolf early Friday, as the state Legislature gave final approval to a bill designating the once-imperiled species a game animal.

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Norm Mackey

San Francisco, CA

#1 Dec 15, 2012
Now it is up to a known intelligent governor to sign Senate Bill 1350 or not. As his office notes, wildlife populations in Michigan and their habitat are of paramount importance to Governor Snyder and the citizens of Michigan. These include wolves and deer.
The Governor cannot see the future but his job is to look ahead. Reputation as fact driven. He will realize his options and pick the wisest. He can probably run a loose Monte-Carlo simulation in his head or have someone run a rigorous one on a computer and see what will happen.
Wolves causing trouble - rare - must be removed immediately, not in a sport season. If "X" more wolves must removed, the state can carefully remove small whole packs, leaving 30 large wolf packs that will have only 30 litters of pups. Powerfully reducing their reproduction rate. The more the big packs grow and take over territory the better this works, it crams the wolves' own birth control strategy down their throats. They're adapted to have this done to them, they do it to themselves.
Or the state could remove the "X" wolves of the biggest packs and leave perhaps twice as many small packs, maybe 50 or 60, but still fewer than before, to manage for twice the reproduction rate.
Finally they could run the envisioned random lottery/quota hunt to about reduce all the wolf breeding packs equally. But this will do nothing to reduce wolf reproduction. Just many litters can be born to the equally tattered packs as before, 90 - or more. All packs reduced, many pairs of wolves can found new breeding packs in the freed wolf territory.
The sport hunt, absurdly, runs wolves' natural population controls backwards. Instead of growing packs protecting more territory and excluding breeding wolves, packs are shrunken and room opened up each year for more packs.
Wolves will not be directly endangered by any of these management choices. They're adapted to the first two so ideally their population can be fine-tuned by the number and size of packs, like deer can be fine-tuned with buck and antlerless deer seasons to a desired number and reproduction rate.
But a sport hunt will make a difficult situation. The only way people can force more population growth on purpose is a sport hunt where the last two breeding wolves in all packs were somehow protected. Wolves compensate superbly to hunting pressure.
The UP wolf population is increasing about 7% a year, below the 10% actually counted increase in UP deer harvest this year. Removing small packs could reduce that growth. Perhaps so no wolves have to be removed for population control the next year.
But if a sport hunt is done, wolves can replace up to 50% of their population a year and still grow their numbers, seven times 7%. The sting is replacing the adult wolves means feeding many more deer to the multiplied number of pups, in a burst of need starting when both wolf pups and fawns are growing up.
Is killing some wolves for sport, instead of a sad necessity that means you do not have to next year, so important that the deer have to withstand increased predation?
Some claim normal predation in spring is a problem for deer. I believe they are adapted to compensate. But even I worry that deer may not be adapted to a sport hunt on wolves raising that predation artificially several times. Wouldn't deer hunters simply prefer wolves be managed to put as little pressure on their prey population as possible?
There has to be a better way to make wolves more wary of people. Rubber bullets, slingshots. The hunt relies on wolves having emotions and reasoning power near human for them to know how to respond and puts more pressure on every surviving wolf to gather more food. Causes hungry wolves.
But it all boils down to what Governor Snyder thinks is wise.

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