The possibility of a wolf hunting season will be discussed this week in Ironwood and Marquette. A hunt can only be authorized by the state's Natural Resources Commission.
The NRC has asked the Department of Natural Resources for a recommendation on how to manage wolves. The DNR is answering questions on the issue and conducting a survey on Tuesday at Gogebic Community College's Student Center and Wednesday at Northern Michigan University's University Center. Both meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. local time.
Forty years ago, there were only a half-dozen wolves in the Upper Peninsula, but now there are nearly 700. There has also been a general increase in reports of wolves attacking livestock and pets in western U.P. counties, an area where the DNR may recommend a wolf hunt.
"It would be a management season very specific to areas that have dealt with problem wolves," said Debbie Munson Badini, DNR deputy public information officer.
Brian Reynolds, the president of the U.P. Whitetails Association, expects problems with wolves will get worse if they aren't managed better.
"There's going to be a whole lot more of them, and they're going to be a lot more hungry than they are right now because there's not going to be enough deer for all of them," said Reynolds.
Adam Robarge, the U.P. Coordinator for the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition said there isn't any scientific data showing a public wolf hunt will reduce wolf attacks on other animals.
"Really a lot of these claims are not factually based and often based on fear or misunderstanding or a phobia," said Robarge.
Reynolds emphasized that hunters want to see wolves managed, not eliminated.
"The hunting community does not want to wipe the wolves out," he said. "We don't want to kill all the wolves. We want to manage them, like we do any other game species."
"This is not a hunt based on survival or sustenance or even sound scientific management as that is concerned," he said. "I think in that regard, it's a hunt we simply cannot endorse."
His group is collecting signatures to get a referendum on the November 2014 ballot. They hope to stop a wolf hunt by having voters overturn Governor Snyder's decision that designated wolves a game species.
They want people to attend the DNR meetings, but they are also hosting an event on Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m. at Marquette's Ore Dock Brewing Company, said Robarge.
"We're going to have music and food as well as information available," he said.
Reynolds wants people to think twice before signing a petition.
"I think a lot of people would change their mind if they saw how efficient these wolves are at killing," he said. "Wolves are the most efficient predator that we have at killing animals and sometimes they're pretty gruesome in the way they do it."
For a wolf hunt to happen this fall, Badini said the NRC would have to decide by June. A hunt could be put on hold if 161,305 signatures are collected by a March 27 deadline. That could result in a proposal on Michigan ballots next November.
If you can't attend a meeting this week, you can email your thoughts on wolf management to email@example.com.
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