Response to letter
I just wanted to clear up some “facts” that Mr. Nelson presented in the letter to the editor, on March 18th. First off, he states that, There are 270,000 deer in the U.P. The DNR has not given a population estimate in years. They have gone to trends, and everything points to the deer population trending downward.
He then goes on stating that there were “about” 21,000 car/deer accidents. I’m not sure how many years had to be added up to come up with that number, but according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning, there were 3,474 car/deer accidents for the entire U.P. in 2019. Delta County had the highest number with 576. Keep in mind, tourist traffic has been increasing for years.
His number that wolves kill an average of 20 deer each, per year, also is no longer used. 18-20 is the number used years ago, as being the minimum needed for survival. Since then, MiDNR has published in their Hunting Guide, that wolves take between 30-50 deer per year. Multiply the estimated bare minimum number of 695 wolves that the DNR can document, and this amounts to 21,000 to 35,000 deer. If the actual wolf number is 1,000 or more, as most believe, this easily amounts to 50,000 deer. This is not minimal impact. In contrast, he states that hunters only took 22,000 deer in 2019. Years back, hunters took more like 35,000 deer annually. We are seeing our Yooper hunting traditions of putting food on the table, being taken away with this high of predator load.
Mr. Nelson is correct that wolves are not the only predator having an impact. According to Phase 2 of the U.P. Predator/Prey Study, (he quotes Phase 1), coyotes were the primary predator of fawns. Wolves being the primary predator on adult deer. Factor in bear and bobcat, and this gives us a very high predator load in general. Looking at management, we have a very liberal hunting and trapping season on coyotes, with absolutely no danger of wiping them out, yet we still have zero regulated management on wolves. Sorry, taking out a problem animal at a farm, is not wildlife management. That’s an animal control issue.
There is no reason we can’t manage wolves to a level where we have sustainable populations of both predator and prey. That’s really, all we are asking for.
I realize everyone is looking for their own “science” to back what they want to see. I just wanted to clarify a few things.