Friday, November 14, 2014

Michigan DNR seeks public input for updating 2008 Wolf Management Plan

Photo of wolf courtesy WolfWatcher.org.

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is updating the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan and is seeking comment on the implementation of the plan. According to the DNR, the plan, and more specifically the four principal goals within the plan, has guided wolf management in Michigan for the last six years.

Anyone interested in wolf management in Michigan can comment by taking an online survey (or requesting it by mail), which includes evaluating DNR actions in wolf management and making suggestions for improvement where needed. (See link below.) 

In 2012 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wolf population in the western Great Lakes region (including Michigan) had recovered and the species no longer required the protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). After the removal from the ESA, the State of Michigan had full management authority for wolves.

2006 Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable of stakeholders

To help develop the 2008 Wolf Management Plan, a Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable met 10 times from June to September 2006 to develop principles to guide management of Michigan wolves and wolf-related issues following Federal de-listing. The Roundtable consisted of members from 20 agencies and organizations representing a range of stakeholder interests in wolves -- interests including environment and ecology, hunting and trapping, livestock producer, public safety, tourism and resource development, tribes, and wolf protection.

Nancy Warren, presently Great Lakes regional director and executive director of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition (NWC), served on that Roundtable and has spoken often about the need for sound science in wolf management.* She recommends consulting the 2008 Plan in order to provide public input to the DNR.

"The DNR is asking for your comments on how well they have implemented the Wolf Management Plan adopted in 2008," Warren says. "The plan places a strong emphasis on education and outreach as well as countering misinformation and addressing perceived threats caused by wolves. Your input will be extremely important as the DNR moves towards updating this plan."

Click here to read the 2008 Plan.

The Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable submitted their final report, "Recommended Guiding Principles for Wolf Management in Michigan," in November 2006. It is available as an Appendix to the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan (The Appendix begins on p. 78 of the Plan). The 2008 Plan notes the Roundtable report "outlines guiding principles pertaining to wolf distribution and abundance, benefits of wolves, management of wolf-related conflicts, information and education, funding, research, hybrid and captive wolves, and future plan revisions."

Wolf Management Goals

The Wolf Management Plan was created using extensive public input to identify important issues and assess public attitudes towards wolves and their management, as well as a review of the biological and social science on wolves. The four principal goals within the plan are:
  • maintain a viable wolf population;
  • facilitate wolf-related benefits;
  • minimize wolf-related conflicts;
  • and conduct science-based and socially acceptable management of wolves.
These goals will remain the same in the updated plan. The update will include reviewing scientific literature and including of new information, evaluating implementation based on the action items in the plan, updating action items, and addressing outdated information or clarifications that may be needed.

The DNR is seeking comment from those interested in wolf management to aid in the evaluation of plan implementation so far. Review of the plan update will occur in two distinct phases. The first phase will consist of a 30-day period in which interested parties, DNR staff members and Natural Resources Commission members can provide comment on the implementation of actions in the 2008 Plan. The second phase will be a 30-day period to comment on the Draft Updated Plan before it goes to the Natural Resource Commission for endorsement and the DNR director for signature.

Phase 1: Electronic Survey

The Phase 1 electronic survey is now availaable at this link: www.surveymonkey.com/s/wolfplanupdate. The survey is structured around 12 strategic goals and corresponding actions within the 2008 plan. Those interested in wolf management are encouraged to provide input. Comments will be accepted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 11. Those unable to participate in this survey electronically are asked to contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 to receive a paper survey.

The DNR hopes to have the wolf plan update completed by spring of 2015.

(Inset photo of Nancy Warren by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

* Editor's Notes:

Click here to see the recent TV-6 interview with Nancy Warren, now on YouTube.

John Vucetich, Michigan Tech associate professor of wildlife ecology and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, also served on the 2006 Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable. Click here for a short video in which Vucetich states why he was voting "No" on the recent ballot referendum on allowing a Michigan wolf hunt.

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