wolves

Researchers believe these are the only remaining wolves on Isle Royale National Park — a mated pair and their offspring (left).
John Vucetich / Michigan Technological University

The wolf population on Isle Royale has been dropping for some time.

There were nine animals last year. In their latest winter study report, researchers on Isle Royale only spotted the three wolves pictured above on the entire island.

A photo of the three wolves left on Isle Royale.
John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson / Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study

The ongoing study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale in Lake Superior has hit a critical juncture. Researchers in charge of the longest continuous study of a predator-prey system anywhere in the world released their annual report today. 

You can read the full report here.

Gray wolves.
USFWS / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Michigan is joining the federal government in appealing a decision that restores legal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Federal Judge Beryl Howell ruled in December that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred by dropping the region's wolf population from the list of endangered and threatened species in 2012.

Wolf drawing on the cover of the Michigan Wolf Management Plan.
MDNR

Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region went back on the federal endangered species list last December. That's when a federal judge vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2011 delisting of the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service published the final rule in the Federal Register. From the rule:

USFWS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Wolf attacks in Michigan's Upper Peninsula killed at least 26 cattle and 17 hunting dogs last year.

MLive.com says the numbers come from the Department of Natural Resources, through Dec. 22. The number of attacks, 35, was higher than the 20 reported in 2013.

Rolf O. Peterson / Michigan Tech

The winter study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale is heading into its 57th year. 

The wolf-moose study is the longest continuous study of any predator and its prey in the world.

Scientists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich spend seven weeks on the island in the middle of winter every year. They'll be heading back out in a few weeks.

Grey wolf.
IsleRoyaleWolf.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list.

The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the removal was "arbitrary and capricious" and violates the federal Endangered Species Act.

USFWS

State wildlife officials are looking for wolf poachers in the Upper Peninsula.

Two wolves were killed last month in Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties.

In one case, a tracking collar on one of the wolves was removed. 

USFWS

Michigan voters rejected a pair of referenda on state laws authorizing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Wolf hunt opponents celebrated tonight.  

“The people of Michigan have shown that they don’t want the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves,” says Jill Fritz with the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

But this may just be a pyrrhic victory for wolf hunting opponents. The results of Tuesday’s vote amount to a non-binding referendum.

USFWS

The State Senate may vote this week on a proposal that could once again open the door to wolf hunting in Michigan.

Hunting groups collected enough petition signatures on a proposed law giving state wildlife officials total control on which animals will be hunted in Michigan.

Drew YoungeDyke is with Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He insists the hunting groups are not trying to outflank groups opposed to hunting wolves in Michigan.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

The 45-day wolf hunting season that began November 15 inflamed passions, both pro and con.

Now that the first-ever wolf hunt is wrapped up, what were the results?

John Barnes explored the impact of the hunt in a recent piece for MLive, which breaks down the ages of the 22 wolves killed over the course of the hunt. He joined us on Stateside today (you can listen to the audio above).

Isle Royale Wolf Moose Study

A wolf that fled from Isle Royale National Park over an ice bridge was found dead on the Minnesota mainland last month.

Researchers were unsure how the wolf died at the time, but a necropsy found that the five-year-old female wolf was shot with a pellet gun.

Lee Berquist of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more:

I thought the wolf hunt last year was unnecessary and barbaric, and was forced on the public by underhanded means.

I think hunting wolves for sport should again be outlawed. But I have to say I disagree with the way those against hunting wolves want to get a proposal put on the ballot, and I hope they lose in federal court.  I’ll explain in a few moments.

MODIS / NASA

The last time I checked, the ice bridge to Isle Royale had not fully formed, but there's an ice bridge now.

Michigan Technological University's Rolf Peterson confirmed it in an e-mail to me last night.

"There's been a good ice bridge for the past 10 days."

MODIS / NASA

Update: Friday, February 7, 2014

The ice bridge to Isle Royale has formed. See our post here.

Original post: January 9, 2014

Wolves first came to Isle Royale in Lake Superior by crossing an ice bridge in the late 1940s, but these ice bridges have not been forming as often in recent years and the wolf population on Isle Royale has been suffering as a result.

user: Alexandra Zakharova / Flickr

According to John Barnes of MLive.com, a cattle farmer who has "the state's highest number of reported wolf attacks" was charged with animal cruelty.

John Koski is from Bessemer, in Ontonagon County in the Upper Peninsula. He was charged with a misdemeanor, which is "punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine." His hearing is on December 17.

The charge involved Koski's treatment of "guard donkeys." Three guard donkeys were provided to Koski by the by the state to protect his cattle. Donkeys are used because they aren't afraid of canines and have a "powerful double-hooved kick."

Koski is accused of "neglecting two  donkeys provided by the state that died. A third was removed from the farm because of ill health, officials said."

MDNR

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — At least 11 wolves have been killed during Michigan's wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

The state Department of Natural Resources updated the results Monday. The wolf season started on Nov. 15 and runs through December, unless 43 are killed before the end of the year.

It's the first hunt in Michigan since the wolf was placed on the endangered species list nearly 40 years ago. A total of 1,200 people are licensed to participate with firearm, crossbow or bow and arrow.

The DNR had estimated the state's wolf population at 658.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Wolves are doing fine in many parts of the Upper Midwest, so much so that people are hunting them now.

But a protected population of wolves on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior has plummeted.

Department of Natural Resources

The season will run from Nov. 15 until Dec. 31 — unless 43 of the state’s estimated 658 wolves are killed before the end of December. That’s the limit set by Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.

But MDNR officials suggest that the odds will not be in the hunters’ favor.

Here's the wolf story as it appeared in a 2011 resolution asking Congress to remove federal protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Wolves appeared multiple times in the backyard of a day care center shortly after the children were allowed outside to play. Federal agents disposed of three wolves in that backyard because of the potential danger to the children

Al Warren

On yesterday's program, we spoke with MLive writer John Barnes about his series of stories this week on the upcoming managed-wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. The managed hunt is a first for Michigan.

 During the interview, John Barnes referred to a statement made by the MDNR's fur-bearer specialist, Adam Bump. In an interview last May with Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody, Bump told him about ways in which wolves were frightening residents of Ironwood, in the Upper Peninsula, but in speaking with John Barnes,Bump said he misspoke. Adam Bump joins us to explain just how that happened.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission meets about a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

John Barnes, a reporter at MLive, described the reasons given for characterizing the push for a hunt in that way.

One falsehood he found was a quote given to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources official last May.

Carmody wanted to know if the town of Ironwood, Michigan really was afraid of wolves, after State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said the town was "living in fear" of the wolves.

Carmody spoke with Adam Bump, a Bear and Furbearer Speicialist with the MDNR. Here's what Bump said:

Bump now says he misspoke.

Michigan Radio tried to reach Bump for a comment, but he was not available to us.

During an interview on today's Stateside, John Barnes said Bump was confused during the interview.

"He was thinking about a separate incident that did not even occur in Michigan. It occurred in Denver. It had to do with a book he was reading, and he just tripped over his words, he says. And did not mean to infer that wolves are showing no fear of humans. In fact, we checked, and there's no such incident that has been recorded like that in the city of Ironwood. And Adam acknowledges that he made a mistake on that," said Barnes.

One farmer, many wolf kill reports

Barnes also writes about other problems with the argument for a hunt, including the fact that one farmer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula "accounted for more cattle killed and injured than all other farmers in the years the DNR reviewed."

HSUS

Beginning tomorrow, Michigan hunters will start laying down $100 for a license to hunt wolves in the Upper Peninsula this fall.    

State wildlife officials admit they don’t know if the wolf hunt licenses will sell out.   The licenses will be available for hunters as young as 10 years old and from out of state. 

1,200 licenses are being sold for the wolf hunt which starts November 15.

It’s the first wolf hunt since the gray wolf rebounded from near extinction in the Upper Peninsula.   

But along with people buying wolf hunting licenses, there will be people working this weekend to protect the wolves.

Jill Fritz is with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.  Her group is collecting signatures on a petition to put a challenge to the wolf hunt law on next year’s ballot.

“We’re encountering an enthusiastic public everywhere we go.  Whether we’re out in front of a library in Marquette or at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids,” says Fritz. 

The Department of Natural Resources has set a goal of killing 43 wolves in this fall’s hunt.  The hunt will take place in 3 separate zones in the Upper Peninsula.

Supporters say the U.P.’s growing wolf population is threatening livestock and household pets. Detractors complain the hunt will indiscriminately kill wolves and may make wolf attacks on livestock more common.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new petition drive is being launched to stop Michigan from holding a wolf hunt.

Last winter, more than a quarter million people signed petitions to put a ban on wolf hunting on the November, 2014 ballot.

But, state lawmakers passed a second law circumventing the petition, opening the door for a wolf hunt this fall. Thus the need for a second referendum petition drive.

Wayne Pacelle is the president of the Humane Society of the United States. He expects they will easily collect more than 200 thousand signatures.

Al Warren

The petition drive to put a second referendum challenging a Michigan law that allows wolf hunting can go ahead.

A state elections board has approved the form of the petition today.

Now the campaign can start gathering signatures to put the question on the November 2014 ballot.

If the campaign succeeds, it will be the second hunting referendum on next year’s ballot.

The first challenges an earlier wolf hunting law.

Jill Fritz is with the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign. She says the second hunting law was passed with a specific purpose.

“And that was to stop our referendum from maintaining protection for Michigan’s wolves. We all know that,” said Fritz. “Everybody understands that, and that’s why we’re doing the second referendum.”

Opponents of the referendum on the hunting law asked the panel to strip any mention of wolf hunting from the summary on the petition describing what it would do. They said the hunting law encompasses more than wolves.

The request was refused.

Kent Wood is with the Michigan Wildlife Coalition, which opposes the referendum drive.

“Really, truly, the next step for us is to continue to organize our campaign the signatures, our decline to sign campaign.”

Wood says a court challenge is not out of the question.

Despite these petition efforts, a wolf hunt is scheduled to take place this November.

University of Michigan / Facebook

There were four baby peregrine falcons nesting on the roof of University Hospital at the end of April. The University Record reports this is the third year in a row that two falcons nested on the hospital roof.

A contest was held to name the babies. Today, the people running the University of Michigan's Facebook page announced the winning names:

  • Maize,
  • Blue,
  • Woodson,
  • and Howard.

The images of the cute falcon babies got us wondering, 'what can be cuter than these things?'

Gray wolves.
USFWS / Flickr

A referendum to let voters decide the fate of a law that allows wolf hunts in northern Michigan will appear on the November 2014 ballot.

The campaign’s petitions to get on the ballot were certified today by a state elections board.

Jill Fritz leads the campaign Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

"We’re going to start our educational campaign to get the issue out there and educate the voters about the issue, and look forward to seeing the people of Michigan speak out against wolf hunting and trapping in the November-2014 election," Fritz said.

The ballot campaign still has to make a decision on what to do about a second law that allows the state to establish wolf hunts, including one to be held in November of this year.

It was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder after the petition drive was launched earlier this year.

Fritz says a lawsuit is not out of the question.

The law was passed as a way to help control wolves that have moved into populated parts of the western U.P.

Times have changed. In Michigan we plan on killing wolves because some feel there are too many. It's a different story on Isle Royale where the wolf population is hanging on by a thread. But because Isle Royale National Park is a designated wilderness area, we, as humans, have pledged not to intervene. So what should we do? The National Park Service has a big decision to make. The folks who have been studying this place for a long time share their thoughts in this op-ed piece.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

Governor Rick Snyder has signed Senate Bill 288. That could clear the way for a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

His signature clears the way for the state's Natural Resources Commission to vote on a recommendation to hold a limited wolf hunt this fall in three parts of the UP.

The Governor told Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith that he believes the NRC will base its decision on what he called "sound scientific principles."

"If you think about it, I think sound scientific principals are how we should decide these things, to make sure we are doing the proper environmental functions that protect whatever species we're talking about, so it's sustainable for the long term," said Snyder.

More than quarter of a million Michiganders  signed a petition asking to put a wolf hunt proposal on the November 2014 ballot. And the coalition called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says Senate Bill 288 is a deliberate attempt by lawmakers to circumvent their petition effort.

The Governor's response?

Christian Jansky / wikimedia commons

A state House committee is holding a hearing on a measure that would change how hunting is managed in Michigan, and bypass a referendum on wolf hunting if it’s on the ballot next year.

Two questions have dominated the hearing on the bill.

  1. Whether hunting is an appropriate part of plans to manage wolves in the Upper Peninsula
  2. Whether the Legislature should approve a new law to allow wolf hunts before the referendum.

Ellie Mayes circulated petitions to put the referendum on the ballot.

“This is a subversion of democracy. The entire point of the bill is to do an end run around a referendum,” she said.

“It is possible for a minority to be silenced. In this case, the minority is very isolated.”

State Representative Ed McBroom (R-Escanaba) is from the western UP.

He says pets and livestock are endangered in pockets of the UP and how to manage that problem should not be a question that’s voted on by the entire state.

“This issue is isolated to the Upper Peninsula and the people of the UP are at great risk of being totally disenfranchised by the rest of the state of Michigan on an issue that’s critical on the future of our well-being,” said McBroom.

The anti-wolf hunting campaign says the Legislature should not ignore the wishes of 255,000 people who signed petitions to put the question on the ballot.

Petition circulator Judy Brock showed up to oppose the legislation.

“And I’m representing those people who signed the petition who wanted this issue to be put on the ballot. Everyone that signed the petition when we collected knew exactly what this was about, and wanted the opportunity to vote on the issue, and that’s being taken away from us,” she said.

The question would still be on the ballot once the petitions are certified by state elections officials. However, the results of the election would not stop a wolf hunt if a new law is adopted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder.

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