MARQUETTE - Michigan Department of Natural Resources data on the 1,200 wolf hunting licenses sold for this fall's hunt showed the majority of licenses were sold to Michigan residents from the southeastern portion of the state, the majority of whom had a history of purchasing more than 20 hunting licenses during their lifetimes.
"The distribution of wolf license sales across the state shows that there is support for the hunting season statewide, not just in the Upper Peninsula," DNR spokeswoman Debbie Munson-Badini in Marquette said. "Successful management of the wolf conflicts this hunt is designed to target will be dependent on the success of these hunters in the field, so it is encouraging to see that the great majority of wolf license holders have significant prior hunting experience."
According to DNR statistics, 56 percent, or 672 in total, of those buying wolf-hunting licenses live in the southern Lower Peninsula. Oakland County had the most residents buying licenses with 65, which represented 5.4 percent of the total.
A quarter of the license sales came from residents of the Upper Peninsula (299), with five counties, including Marquette, among the state top 10.
Beyond Oakland, the other nine counties in the top 10 and the number of licenses sold included: Houghton (53), Gogebic (48), Genesee (41), Kent (36), Livingston (35), Ontonagon (33), Marquette (32), Mackinac (32) and Wayne (31).
Dickinson, Baraga and Iron counties each had 18 residents buying wolf hunting licenses, Luce County had 17, Delta 10, Keweenaw and Chippewa six each, Schoolcraft County four and Menominee County three. Alger County had the fewest with a single resident buying a license.
Badini said the sales statistics showed a greater-than-normal percentage of U.P. hunters buying licenses. She said for recent deer hunting license purchases, 73 percent were from the southern Lower Peninsula, 19 percent from the northern Lower Peninsula and 8 percent from the U.P.
The compiled DNR license data showed 88 percent (1,055) of those buying wolf-hunting licenses had purchased more than 20 hunting licenses in the past, 7 percent (83) had bought six to 20 licenses, 3 percent (30) had purchased one to five licenses, and 2 percent (25) were buying a license for the first time.
The cost of a wolf hunting license is $100 for residents and $500 for nonresidents. In order to purchase a license, a hunter is required to have either purchased a previous hunting license or taken a state-approved hunter safety education course.
The wolf hunt will take place from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, unless quotas are met sooner from three wolf management units designated in the U.P. A total of 43 wolves may be killed. The bag limit for each hunter is one wolf. No traps, lights or dogs will be allowed.
The 1,200 licenses went on sale at noon Sept. 28. By Oct. 4, the DNR had confirmed all of the licenses had sold out. However, DNR officials said some sold licenses may be voided or canceled before the Oct. 31 sales deadline. Those licenses will be returned to the license buying pool and made available for purchase. Hunters wanting to buy a license were advised to periodically check the online license system for availability.
All but four of the 1,150 wolf hunting licenses sold were bought by Michigan residents. Those other four licenses were sold to two hunters in Texas, one from Wisconsin and another from Ohio. Fifty of the licenses were distributed free of charge to Michigan active duty military hunters (19) and disabled veterans (31).
Sixty-five percent of the licenses were sold by retail license agents (782); 31 percent (372) were bought online through the state's E-license system and the remaining 4 percent (46) were purchased at DNR offices.
DNR officials said Michigan's wolf population has grown significantly since 2000, with a current minimum population estimate of 658, down slightly from last winter.
The DNR said the target harvest is not expected to impact the overall wolf population trajectory, based on published scientific research.
Counties, or portions of counties, where wolf hunting zones are located include Gogebic, Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon, Luce and Mackinac.
Management goals of the hunt in the three wolf units included reducing the number of nuisance wolf complaints, chronic livestock and dog depredations.
A DNR "Michigan Wolf Digest" explaining all the rules of the wolf hunt and other information is available at DNR offices or can be downloaded online at www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10371_14724--,00.html.