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Dancing with wolves

Wolf population back on endangered species list

January 8, 2010
By Tim Kobasic

ESCANABA - It was scheduled to take place April 22, 2009. At that time, the State of Michigan was to remove wolves from listing as an endangered species, falling in line with de-listing accomplished at the federal level by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the US Department of Agriculture.

Once accomplished, recent laws enacted through the state legislature could be implemented that would provide protection from wolf depredation on livestock and family pets. All was well at the time.

What happened?

It was June 29, 2009 when the following news release was issued by The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON - "In a victory for the gray wolf, a coalition of wolf advocates led by The Humane Society of the United States has reached a settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region, including the states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The settlement comes in response to a motion filed by The HSUS, the Center for Biological Diversity, Help Our Wolves Live, Friends of Animals and Their Environment and Born Free USA. The motion sought an immediate injunction to halt the killing of wolves pending resolution of the case, which the groups filed two weeks ago.

This is the sixth time in the last five years a federal government decision to strip wolves of Endangered Species Act protections has been stopped through legal action, but the settlement does not prevent the administration from making another attempt to de-list wolves and turn their fate over to state killing plans."

Today we still see the growing wolf population listed as endangered and a dwindling population of whitetail deer. It isn't difficult to assume predation is playing a significant role in this dilemma.

Couple to that the issue of other predation and back-to-back bad winters and deer hunters are struck with panic.

Some believe the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the re-introduction of wolves beyond one feeble attempt in the mid 1970's. That same faction insists the MDNR now has the authority to allow the lethal control of wolves.

The fact is they don't. It is a "powder-keg" of emotion very close to exploding.

Now the media has lit a match.

Last week a rabbit hunting beagle was killed by wolves in an area known as the Seney Stretch along highway M28 in the Upper Peninsula. The report and graphic photos were listed on the TV6 web-site after which they received one of their largest ever list of response comments.

TV6 also ran a straw poll regarding the status of the UP wolves and the majority of respondents were in favor of continued protection, again fueling the issue. Why?

I think it unfortunate that WLUC has allowed this to take place. Their forum not only permitted unaccountable personal attacks among respondents, it also availed some the opportunity to express their opinion or perception, which unfortunately then becomes another's fact simply because it appeared in the media.

The worst circumstance is no one is taking the continued efforts of HSUS et al into consideration, and holding them accountable for their action.

There are reports the gray wolf re-evolution had actually met the minimum natural sustainable levels (100 wolf resident population for five consecutive years) to be de-listed in the UP back in 1989. It could not have happened because then the wolves were part of one large management unit that spanned across the northern tier of the United States and not all areas had shown recovery.

Today the Western Great Lakes Region is a separate management unit and the USFWS is continuing to follow their own guidelines to de-list the wolf here. It is the published goal of HSUS to derail any de-listing based on any technicality it can produce, as was done last June.

I don't want to see wolves obliterated. However, like coyotes, bobcats and bears, I'd like to be assured they are controlled and won't wipe out fawns needed for recruitment and the base population of adult deer, so that the balance of wildlife and conservation stay as our primary focus.

If you are of the "shoot-shovel-shut-up" mindset, then why is it important for you to brag about it publicly or promote it in the media when all it will do in the long run is fuel the case of HSUS, hurting everyone else?

Don't play into their game. Stand tall for conservation and support delisting in the proper way, by supporting solid game management and following the rules of order via the legislature.

I would also hope all media use their format for the same rather than promote anarchy.


Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.



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