On the 1st of May, Drs. John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson submitted written testimony in opposition to Michigan’s plan for a public harvest of gray wolves.  I was asked to provide feedback on early versions of this text, and received permission to post the final version here.  My hope is that it will generate some interesting discussion and debate.  Whatever your views on the subject, I think you will find that it is a very thoughtful critique of Michigan’s wolf management plan.

Using Basic Principles of Wildlife Management to Evaluate the Prospects for a Public Wolf Harvest in Michigan

 
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About The Author

Jeremy Bruskotter

Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter is an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University where his research interests are centered around the human dimensions” of wildlife conservation and management. Jeremy is passionate about wildlife–at one time or another, he has called himself hunter, angler, and wildlife photographer. Most of all, Jeremy is concerned with bringing the tools and techniques of the social sciences to bear on pressing issues in wildlife management.

91 Responses to Scientists testify against Michigan wolf harvest

  1. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Hatred of an animal is not acceptible reason for holding a hunt for it. It violates the principles of The North American Model of Wildlife Management (NAM).

    I especially liked the two scientist’s statement that “I) The poverty of stated reasons for hunting wolves suggests that other reasons provide the motivation to hunt wolves. There are goodreasons to believe that one unstated reason to hunt wolves in Michigan is because a tiny, vocal minority of citizens hate wolves. Hatred is no friend of hunting. Never in the history of Michigan (perhaps the United States) has a recreational harvest of any species been motivated by hatred.”

    I want to add that the wolf hunts in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where I have personal experience, seem to clearly be motivated by hatred of wolves, and probably hatred of certain classes of American citizens, by a fair number of hunters and also by many of the wildlife politicians.

  2. avatar jdubya says:

    Ralph, what you say is true but it is not unique to wolves. Hatred is pervasive in our society whether it be directed at wolves, illegal immigrants, muslims or people with tatoos. If it was a sign of the times we could ask what brought us here, but, alas, we are a species that thrives on hatred and have done so for thousands and thousands of years. Wolves are just a convenient whipping boy.

    • avatar JB says:

      jdubya:

      Not to intrude on your conversation, but I believe the question is whether other regulated public hunts in the “modern” era of wildlife management have been motivated by hatred of the animal being hunted. My reading of the authors’ intent was that their comments were specific to regulated hunting of game species (so not animals classified as varmints/nuisance/vermin).

      Ralph’s point about wolf hunts in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana is a fair criticism. There is some indication that at least some of the people hunting wolves are motivated by hatred (of wolves, and the people who support them).

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “There is some indication that at least some of the people hunting wolves are motivated by hatred (of wolves, and the people who support them)

        Gee, if we humans could only turn that mentality around and address it when it comes to our own populations suffering:

        http://www.politifact.com/new-jersey/statements/2012/dec/27/cory-booker/cory-booker-says-34-americans-are-killed-guns-ever/

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        JB,

        Wherever one finds S cubed, one might assume some hatred was involved. NAM #5.

        • avatar JB says:

          Immer:

          Not entirely certain I agree. One might illegally kill (i.e., s-s-s) an overabundant species and justify the action not out of hate, but out of concern for the environment or some other valued resource (see Rork’s point below). The difference here is that some who oppose wolves have no qualms in essentially admitting they hate the species.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JB,

            I’ve heard once to often up here,
            1 god damned wolves
            2 don’t talk about wolves to him, or
            3. there’s no deer out here.”
            4. Ever wonder what some of those gun shots are out in the rural woods?

            To point 3, what are the wolves eating? Mice and hare, oh no, but thats like both Farley Mowatts wolves and the fictional indigenous wolves of the NRM states prior to reintroduction. Also, if there are so many wolves in the BWCA, what the heck are they eating.

            No JB, I disagree with you here. MN has had a wolf season. Other than protecting
            Pets or stock, shooting a wolf is hate for the animal.

            • avatar JB says:

              Immer:

              Two points:

              (1) I’ve personally met wolf hunters and trappers who have great respect for wolves, so I don’t buy the hate-is-the-only motivation argument.

              (2) Your original statement was not limited to wolves. You said: “Wherever one finds S cubed, one might assume some hatred was involved.” Again, I can think of numerous other motivations for illegally killing wildlife (wolves or otherwise), but for whatever reasons, wolves seem to bring out hateful responses among a very vocal group of “hunters”.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,

                ” Again, I can think of numerous other motivations for illegally killing wildlife (wolves or otherwise), but for whatever reasons, wolves seem to bring out hateful responses among a very vocal group of “hunters”.

                Numerous motivations for killing wildlife illegally. And yes my statement was in rears to wolves…

                Other than hate or sociopathic tendencies, why would one illegally kill a wolf? Said individual, unless lucky, would have to go to great effort to other wise kill a wolf.

              • avatar ZeeWolf says:

                JB – What is your opinion about Chad McKittrick and his motivations for killing #10 in the early days of the NRM wolf restoration? Was he killing out of hatred of wolves, or dissatifaction with the government’s decision to restore wolves or did he have another motivation?

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Rancher Bob,

                You just confirmed my point in the wolf/squirrel discussion. Pulling the trigger is the easy part.

                “There is no more effort to killing a wolf over a squirrel, simply pull on the trigger, as with any hunting it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. One of the main reason for illegally killed wolves is the opportunity to shoot a Wolf comes rarely…”

              • avatar JB says:

                Immer:

                Well, you mentioned protecting one’s pets or livestock–also genuine (and I would argue misplaced) fear. Rork’s point below is a good one as well. One might believe that illegally killing a wolf would assist another valued resource such as deer. Finally, I’d ask a question in return: why do boys in rural areas wreak havoc on small birds and mammals with bb guns? I don’t think it is hate. Novelty? Vanity? Boredom? The desire to impress peers, maybe? I think this last group may answer ZeeWolf’s question as well–though I don’t know the details of McKittrick’s story.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                JB,

                That’s the whole thing in one word, illegally.  MI is pushing for that legal season. MN and WI have had theirs. The operative word is legal. Livestock and pet owners can legally “protect”their animals. In MN the DNR will still remove problem wolves.  Back to my comment, there is no reason, at least in MN, to illegally kill a wolf other than something is wrong with a persons mental well-being, or a hatred for the animal.

                McCittrick,

                Loud mouthed underemployed cowboy who shot the alpha/breeding male of the first released  Yellowstone wolves.

                Observed it on a ridge, boom. Neither him nor the friend he was with could keep their mouths shut

                What happened:

                http://www.hcn.org/issues/36/1062/print_view

                His defense:

                http://www.animallaw.info/cases/causfd142f3d1170.htm

                Rural boys shooting birds and small mammals.

                Don’t understand the bird thing, red squirrels will damage buildings.  You forgot killing snakes. Pretty close to hatred there.
                The only difference between some boys and men is the price of their toys.

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              “Other than protecting Pets or stock, shooting a wolf is hate for the animal.”

              I would disagree with that – I’ve talked with a number of hunters, and I helped teach a trapping workshop. I haven’t picked up on a lot of hatred – just plenty of ignorance (mostly among the hunters)of the fine points of the WGL web of life.

              The haters have been killing wolves for free all along. I don’t know why they would start paying for licenses now.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                ma’iingan,

                You both abridged and took my quote out of context. MN has had a season on wolves where 413 wolves were legally harvested. So, why if there is a legal time to “harvest” wolves, and protecting pets and stock is legal, then why in MN would one illegally kill a wolf. Hatred for wolves or something very wrong with said individual. To shoot a wolf isn’t quite plunking squirrels.

              • avatar savebears says:

                Immer,

                What is the difference in plunking a squirrel or a wolf?

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Savebears,

                Effort.

              • avatar savebears says:

                No, where I live, it takes no more effort to plunk a wolf, that it does a squirrel, quite often, I could do it out the front window of the house.

              • avatar savebears says:

                To add, I am sure, I am not unique, there are places in every state that has wolves, that presents the same situations.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Savebears,

                Red squirrels out the wazoo. Could shoot multiples every day. Just sit and wait for a few minutes. Could have got one wolf, maybe two from my window, and I would have had to have been ready for them. That’s my point.

              • avatar Rancher Bob says:

                Immer
                I know many who hunt and/or trap wolves never heard one of them say they hate wolves. I can see where people who love wolves can not understand why people would hunt wolves, then most of them don’t understand how a hunter could kill any animal. Once again few see any middle ground in the wolf issue love/hate, pro/anti.
                There is no more effort to killing a wolf over a squirrel, simply pull on the trigger, as with any hunting it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. One of the main reason for illegally killed wolves is the opportunity to shoot a wolf comes rarely, some just can’t wait for a legal opportunity or feel every opportunity should be legal. Some feel there should not be a wolf season while others feel that any means of taking a wolf should be legal.
                I grew up with the belief that winters were for weeding out the sick and weak, now I’m told that was what wolves were for, so what do we need both for?
                Enjoy the sunny weather.

              • avatar savebears says:

                Immer,

                You just said even you could have got a couple of wolves, if you were ready, so that shows anyone in our position could get wolves is a little bit of effort, but not all that much.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Rancher Bob,

                I was not referring to those who take wolves legally. My contention about “hate” for wolves was in the realm of illegal take.

                My comment, “Other than hate or sociopathic tendencies, why would one illegally kill a wolf?”

          • avatar Robert R says:

            Wait a minute! While most are putting the blame on hunters for the hatred of wolves and the wolf killing all the deer etc.
            Doesn’t wildlife service have the final say on how animals are managed beside the Feds.
            Yes sports men/women are some of the driving force behind wanting to kill wolves but none of it can happen without some sort of a vote or approval by the people. You cannot blame hunters alone.
            I think where revenue is involved for big game it’s going to be a tough battle.

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Robert R the states, all of them I think, have pointedly refrained from maximized revenue from wolf hunting. In fact it is a losing enterprise because the state has to pay to recollar wolves that are shot in the annual hunt.

              I don’t think any of the lower 48 states has reduced its elk/deer harvest because of wolves (except for Montana near Gardiner).

              Revenue isn’t an issue. The states don’t take revenue into account in setting wolf, elk or deer seasons.

              Idaho Fish and Game deliberately shot themselves in the foot by broadcasting how Idaho elk were being wiped out by wolves and that hunting was bad even though the Department did not reduce the elk seasons and the elk harvest numbers had no correlation with wolf numbers.

              Idaho was willing to take a big revenue hit in order to try to make a political point.

              • avatar Robert R says:

                Ralph is the state fish and game not prompted by scientist to collar animals because they have the authority and resources to collar animals.
                I have to disagree about the revenue issue,

              • avatar Rancher Bob says:

                Ralph
                Most areas in Montana that have wolves have had reduced tags available, both doe and cow tags. My area averaged 100 cow tags a year now 0. Doe tags could be bought over the counter, now 50 permitted. Sure we can blame some of that on lions/bears, but which predator population has been growing the most the last ten years.

              • avatar topher says:

                A friend of mine who recently went to the Idaho Fish and Game auction in Pocatello told me that they pulled the wolves from the auction at the last minute presumably fearing backlash from the pro wolf crowd. When I asked him what he thought the pelts would sell for he figured upwards of 1000 for a good one. I don’t know how many they had but it seems they don’t always take revenue into account.

    • avatar Kristi says:

      In MI it has been moreso fear than hate and the fear mongering has been perpetuated primarily by two politicians, Tom Casperson and Ed McBroom. Of course MI does have the usual calls for SSS and the like and wolves are being poached. As I wrote previously as a guest of Ken and Ralph’s, the wolf hunt in MI is not about wolves, or hate, but it is politics as usual in a wolf-state. There must be some big money somewhere for these politicians because the GOP-dominant House is willing to give up its power to the APPOINTED Natural Resources Commission (of course, an extension of the governor, not impartial or immune to politics) to designate what will be hunted. This was intentionally done to circumvent the referendum process guaranteed to MI residents under its state constitution. If the NRC isn’t an elected body, the petition against a new law is nullified. The very political party that preaches about rights being taken away and against big government just took a right away and made government bigger in MI. 254,000+ voters signed that petition seeking to put the issue of wolf hunting on the ballot, not a yes or no vote about hunting wolves. For politicians to do all this, there has got to be some big reward at the end of it all. Rep. Ed McBroom has been giving the soundbite in the media that this issue has been politicized, in criticism of supporters of the referendum. Well, I wonder who made it a political issue in the first place, Mr. Broom???

  3. avatar rork says:

    Pretty good summary. I particular liked:
    – Hunters oblige themselves to provide good reasons for a hunt.
    – possible damage to the good honor of hunting and wildlife management. They say it better than I ever have.
    – there’s been no analysis plan proposed. In science or even in business, that’s a deadly criticism.

    They failed to note that DNR may be trying to appease deer hunters who think (perhaps wrongly, perhaps rightly, or perhaps rightly but almost negligibly) that wolves cause less deer to be killed by humans. I don’t think our DNR even mentioned deer in their recommendations, probably knowing the evidence for an effect is weak, which is why you might not mention that in a critique.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Rork,

      Ma’iingan has brought it up, Dan Stark from MN has addressed it, and I’m willing to bet MI has it on record, that the biggest negative influence on deer numbers is Winter.

      Our Winter extended through April. April had 50+ inches of snow and sub zero temperatures occurring sporadically until Aprils end. I have found one fawn that has starved, and observed a doe by my bird feeder platform with protruding hips and ribs. Again, to paraphrase a friend, if there are so many Gd wolves, how come they can’t find these starving deer?

      The wolves aren’t killing all the deer, and in MN,perhaps, just perhaps, with our extended Winter, the past wolf hunt has Contributed to the starvation of many deer.

      • avatar rork says:

        I know winter is the biggest factor in MI’s UP deer numbers, and similar places.
        I fear decreased deer availability for humans this fall due to winter kill will increase hunter demand for wolf hunt, not that a wolf hunt would actually affect deer populations much.

      • avatar rork says:

        Oh, as to “if there are so many Gd wolves, how come they can’t find these starving deer?”
        One theory (theories are easy) is that there are so many starving deer that the predators don’t get them all. In my local (southern lower) deer-killing EHD outbreak last summer, people were disturbed that the carcasses often appeared un-scavenged (by coyotes mostly here), and hypothesized that the scavengers didn’t want to eat these particular dead deer. I think it was just that there were so many dead deer in such a short time period that there was overwhelm (since some were definitely chewed on).

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Which helps feed the “yarns”of excess killing where deer/elk have yarded up, starved, and then been partially scavenged.

  4. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I like that the vague and open-ended management was addressed (i.e. complaints about nuisance wolves and threats to human safety, but nothing about stopping the ‘harvest’ when this has been taken care of or if it ever gets taken care of. Then what? Same with livestock complaints that don’t coincide with the hunting seasons or locations.) If there are complaints, address them quickly, not just take out random animals.

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “If there are complaints, address them quickly, not just take out random animals.”

      That’s a pretty tough sell to legislatures in the WGL, where depredation costs have tracked the growth of wolf numbers almost identically.

      The simple solution in their arena is to reduce wolf populations by hunting, and forget about the very fine-scale (and expensive) management required to focus on problem animals.

      And that’s the basis of a very valid question that needs to be addressed – without hunting, what is the go-forward funding mechanism for wolf management?

      • avatar JB says:

        “…where depredation costs have tracked the growth of wolf numbers almost identically.”

        Hmm… there is a strong correlation between abundance and the number of verified depredations, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. Total depredations have been extremely low compared with other states:

        Year – Verified – Total claims

        2006 – 13 – 52
        2007 – 17 – 29
        2008 – 14 – 115
        2009 – 14 – 16
        2010 – 49 – 70

        http://www.discoverycenter.net/assets/files/timberwolf/Midwest_Wolf_Stewards_Meeting_2011/Michigan_2011_Depredation.pdf

        Moreover, consider that depredation events seem to be localized–meaning the occur and reoccur in the same locations. How is random removal via regulated hunting going to deal with such events?

        Your point about paying for wolf management is right on–resources often are managed in a way that benefits those willing to pay (in this case, wolf hunters). (Note: I’m not promoting this as a justification for wolf hunting, merely a political reality).

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          I concluded a long time ago by tracking wolves controversy by controversy while looking at all the states with wolves that there was no relationship between the number of wolf incidents and the actions of politicians/legislatures.

          The tiny Mexican wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona with their 60-75 pound wolves and their minor depredations raised as much an uproar as the wolves in the NRockies states.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          “Moreover, consider that depredation events seem to be localized–meaning the occur and reoccur in the same locations. How is random removal via regulated hunting going to deal with such events?”

          Dr. Adrian Treves and his associates at UW have used good science to develop depredation risk maps for Wisconsin, and he testified eloquently against the effectiveness of hunting for depredation control at several hearings.

          However, as is so often the case, good science was swamped by politics.

          • avatar JB says:

            Ma:

            I’m curious if you guys have considered the idea of “matching” would be wolf hunters/trappers with producers that have had problems with wolf depredations? The idea would be to not have an dedicated *season*, but rather, use some kind of draw/lottery to identify a hunter/trapper who could harvest wolves thought to be depredating. This type of policy would (a) remove problem animals while leaving those that are not causing problems, (b) provide an opportunity for those that legitimately want to hunt and trap wolves, and (c) allow depredations to be handled with minimal cost, as the hunter/trapper would still pay a tag fee (as opposed to paying wildlife services to remove the animal(s).

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              JB –

              Beginning this year, producers who apply for wolf damage payments will be required to allow hunter/trapper access to their property. They will not be required to allow hunting with hounds.

              • avatar JB says:

                Thanks, Ma.

              • avatar ma'iingan says:

                JB –

                A little more on the subject – it’s wolf trapping season for me so I didn’t have time to write much this morning.

                The obvious problem with attempting to direct wolf harvest by landowner access permits is that our depredation peaks are in mid-June and again in August, far removed from hunting season.

                When producers need help, they need it during calving and again in late summer when wolf pups are eating machines. So I don’t see landowner access for hunters proving to be a very effective tool.

              • avatar JB says:

                I understand the issue. One solution would be to not have a dedicated hunting season per se, but to match hunters with livestock producers on a case-by-case, as-needed basis. Of course, that would mean your would-be hunters would need to be ready to go at a moment’s (or at least a couple of days) notice.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                I dunno JB, that’s started to sound more like work and less like a ‘sport’ the more you described it.

              • avatar JB says:

                That’s funny, Mark. It sounds like work to me know matter how it’s described. LOL! However, consider that these hunters would have a leg up on their query, knowing the exact location of a recent kill. Perhaps that advantage would offset the ‘work-like’ aspect…?

      • avatar jon says:

        How is that going to solve the “complaints”? If you are killing wolves that aren’t causing any problems which is what is going to happen in the MI wolf hunt, how are you supposed to address the “complaints”?

    • avatar Kristi says:

      One farm had 30% of the depredations in 2010, IF memory serves. No owner on the premises, the animals were left on their own. Also, most of the dogs that were killed are hunting dogs. Some were dogs on private property, but the vast majority of them were killed while hunting. No MI politician ever pointed out these two facts in their campaign of fear of wolves.

  5. avatar Immer Treue says:

    One must also consider the price of a wolf tag, and the influx of $ to MI. MN has already approached that slippery slope.

    • avatar Kristi says:

      The price has been rumored to be $100 for MI residents and $500 for non-res. 40-47 wolves has been bantied about for the quota. The hunt would be from Nov. 1–Dec. 31 but not set yet since the wolf hunt has not been approved, but could happen this week, which is during deer season when MI really rakes in the money. Deer hunters already spend plenty of $$ in MI during deer season. Since WI and MN will also be killing wolves during the same time it doesn’t seem like it would draw an influx of wolf hunters with money to burn for a wolf license.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Kristi,

        Once you start, hard to stop. I believe the MN season(s) generated ~ $180,000 in wolf licenses. This was for a “conservative” season.

        • avatar Kristi says:

          This is only the first year of a wolf hunt, they are trying to show they are conservative regarding the quota. However, after this initial year, the flood gates could be opened and the areas could be expanded, higher quota, higher take/hunter or trapper, higher or lower license fees. The NRC could do whatever the hell they want after the first “season”. That has been a concern of mine. All this attention has been focused on a possible upcoming seasaon…what about the following ones? It definitely won’t be the only season on wolves.

  6. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I really do hope that states aren’t going to try to bring in revenue on the shaky foundation of animal harvesting. Each year the numbers decrease, and the young don’t mature fast enough to keep up, and killing yearlings and young can only decrease it further. You can’t increase a harvest of diminishing animals every year. At some point they will reach the minimum number to be relisted?

  7. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Rancher Bob,

    ” One of the main reason for illegally killed wolves is the opportunity to shoot a wolf comes rarely, some just can’t wait for a legal opportunity or feel every opportunity should be legal. Some feel there should not be a wolf season while others feel that any means of taking a wolf should be legal.”

    NAM # 5

    Also, to clear the air a bit, I have never been against legal wolf management. There exist many laws with which I have an issue, but if I break them, there are consequences. When will the illegal take of wolves be dealt with in consistent consequences?

  8. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    We Americans must’ve really hated Passenger Pigeons…we blew away over 2 billion of them , to utter extinction.

    Teddy and the North American Model could not save them… or several other species , for that matter

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      It’s our right, don’t you know. :(

    • avatar JB says:

      Cody:

      To be fair, the institution we currently recognize as wildlife management really wasn’t in place until the late 1930s. The first text book on wildlife management (i.e., Game Management) was published in 1933, the P-R Act was passed in 1937 and the Journal of Wildlife Management, the first publication devoted to the field, was first published in 1937. The passenger pigeon was gone by 1914. And wolves, cougars and grizzlies were all but eliminated east of the Rocky mountains by 1920.

  9. avatar ZeeWolf says:

    I must opine that I believe there to be some middle ground here. There is undeniably some whose prime motivation for pulling a wolf tag is based on hate. But it seems to me that to describe all those who shoot wolves, an activity that personally causes revulsion, as doing so motivated soley by hatred is also misguided. My two cents, if it pleases you.

    I cannot help but wonder at what part the bureaucratic culture also plays in this drama. What I mean is, since most other, if not all, large mammalian species not on a protected list of one sort or the other are hunted it seems to me that the pervasive bureaucratic culture would be to set up a hunting season on wolves for no other reason than they, the wolves, are there on the ground; to keep in line with the bureau-and-technocratic idealogy that is our current paradigm, regardless of whether or not hatred is a motivation.

    When NAM was first implemented across the wide breadth of our country, it may have been the right thing to do but in this current age its seems antiquated if its key components cannot be enforced and is perhaps in need of redrafting. Or is that too radical? I would like to think that the hunting community and the various game management agencies will self regulate and manage for the stated goals and ideals currently in place.

    As a non-hunter, one who enjoys viewing wildlife, I have always nonetheless supported the rights of hunters to go about thier activities in an ethical manner. Most of the people I know who hunt end up killing elk, deer and other ungulates and do not hunt predators. A handful I know might hunt predators, but are motivated by personal glory and participation in what they view as wildlife managment and do not seem to be goaded on by hatred. That being said, as a non-hunter I also feel that more and more wildlife issues are a case of taxation-without-representation.

  10. avatar JB says:

    “… since most other, if not all, large mammalian species not on a protected list of one sort or the other are hunted it seems to me that the pervasive bureaucratic culture would be to set up a hunting season on wolves for no other reason than they, the wolves, are there on the ground…

    Good observation. Essentially what you’re saying is that the institutional culture was to allow hunting unless there was a good reason not to (e.g., species was not desired as game, species needed protection). The NAM principle, “wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose” flips this notion on its head. It says we should not hunt wildlife unless we have a good/legitimate/sound reason to do so. This places the burden of proof with those that desire a wolf hunt to provide sound reasons for a hunt. Importantly, Dr. Vucetich and Peterson do not come out against hunting wolves on principle; rather, they’re simply questioning whether the reasons provided for hunting are legitimate and consistent with the NAM.

    • avatar ZeeWolf says:

      JB – “Essentially what you’re saying is that the institutional culture was to allow hunting unless there was a good reason not to”

      Yes, your succinct summation of my paragraph is exactly what a I meant. Throughout history bureaucracies have gained a reputation of self-perpetuation and aggrandizment, regardless of their stated purpose.

  11. avatar Judith Conning says:

    Just face it – humans do not have the “right” to slaughter other creatures. Hunting is not a “sport” and animals are mot “game”. In fact the world would be a much better place without such a vile, senses predator such as man.

    • avatar JB says:

      Judith:

      This may be how you feel, but in fact, in the US we do have the right to “slaughter” other animals. Chickens, turkey, hogs, cattle, sheep, and a variety of fish are legally slaughtered every day for our consumption. Likewise, a variety of wildlife species are legally hunted (not a slaughter, btw) every year as trophies and/or for human consumption.

      In our country, people have some “rights” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and others provided by state constitutions (many of which stipulate a “right” to hunt).

      It might feel good to deny this reality, but I don’t think it furthers the conversation, and certainly it hurts your credibility, to make statements that are wholly inaccurate and so easily falsified. If I may make a suggestion, why not tell us why you think humans should not have the right to slaughter (kill?) other species?

  12. avatar rork says:

    Yesterday in MI, my governor signed the bill giving our Natural Resources Commission the power to declare species as game animals, without voters being able to petition against such declarations. Voters could petition against the bill itself, as they did when wolves were designated game by a law passed last December. Hard to predict if that will happen.
    I’d rather not point at just one report, so please search something like “Michigan wolves Snyder”.
    I could comment on much, but will restrict to noting that some celebrate that dumb voters and outside lobbies (HSUS) may be stifled, failing to think about how much money other outside lobbies throw around (and a little means allot in state representative elections), or how the reputation of hunters will be tarnished along with the politicians.

  13. avatar ma'iingan says:

    “I really do hope that states aren’t going to try to bring in revenue on the shaky foundation of animal harvesting.”

    What do you envision as a funding source for ongoing wolf management and research, sans hunting?

    Like it or not, Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf season provided sufficient funds to cover all the depredation payments for the year, with enough left over to support continuing research, monitoring, and depredation abatement.

    To Immer’s point, once you start it’s hard to stop. Show me a state legislature that would voluntarily shut off that funding source in order to replace it with … what?

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      What did they do before the wolf hunts? The wolves won’t last forever.

      • avatar JB says:

        Q: “What did they do before the wolf hunts?”

        A: Wolves were unprotected and could be killed whenever and wherever they existed. Management, where it existed at all, consisted of bounties specifically designed to eliminate wolf populations. These bounties were justified in economic terms–wolves had no value and killed other animals that had value, so their removal was a net gain for everyone.

        • avatar ZeeWolf says:

          JB – I’d like to add something to your answer… Bounties were not effective enough by themselves to cause the extirpation of the wolf in much of the Western United States. There were various reasons for this, including fraud, lack of appropriations and simply that once wolf populations became low enough it wasn’t worth the time and effort for the money paid. Consequently, cattlemen’s organizations began to fund the hiring of professional trappers that would make a concerted effort to rid the range of wolves, once and for all. In 1915 the first appropriation was made by the federal government to do the same job. The result was that professional trappers were able affect the extermination of wolves throughout a large swath of the lower 48 continguous states, unlike the previous haphazzard attempts by bounty hunters. My source for all this is the book “Last of the Loners” by Stanley Paul Young, who was one of the early day trappers. Fascinating but extremeley depressing account of what he described as the “war on the wolf”.

          • avatar JB says:

            ZeeWolf:

            I have both volumes of Young & Goldman’s The Wolves of North America on my desk at work–good stuff there. Young’s idea–that it took the institutionalization of predator control and the use of poison to finish the job of killing off wolves is one championed by others in the research community. I’m not so sure. These assertions, of course, rarely acknowledge that we cannot know what would’ve happened were the federal control program not institutionalized or poisons not used. Give our success at removing wolves and other large carnivores in other states, I tend to think it was only a matter of time–it would’ve happened regardless of the federal control program. Here’s a bit of text from an upcoming publication that explains my rationale:

            “Wolf bounties in what is now the U.S. pre-date the formation of our federal government by well over a century; the first known bounty was established in 1630 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Young 1944; Mech 1970). Other colonies soon followed suit, and bounties for wolves and other predators followed man’s westward expansion across North America. According to Lopez (1978):

            “The New England experience with the wolf was repeated as settlers moved west through the eastern hardwood forests…[b]ounties were enacted, wolf drives took place, pits were dug, poison and traps were set out…[b]y the time the settlers reached the edge of the Great Plains, they could turn and see behind them a virtually wolfless track, hundreds of miles wide, that stretched all the way back to the Atlantic seaboard.”

            But bounties were not exclusive to wolves. Danz (1999) noted that by the time the 48th state was admitted to the Union, “all but one, Nevada, had, at one time or another, established a bounty on the cougar.”

            …Throughout the 19th Century the federal government was conspicuously absent in these eradication efforts. Wildlife are generally considered resources of states (Blumm and Ritchie 2005), and wildlife problems were typically left for state and local governments to handle. That changed in 1915 when Congress appropriated $125,000 for the control of wolves and coyotes (Di Silvestro 1985). Pressure to expand federal control efforts quickly escalated—in 1930, the Bureau of Biological Survey requested $1 million for its predator control efforts—until, in 1931, Congress passed the National Animal Damage Control Act which directed the federal government to “conduct campaigns” directed at the “destruction or control” of predatory animals (Feldman 2007).

            …Yet, by the time the National Animal Damage Control Act had passed, large carnivores had been mostly eliminated from the contiguous 48 states (Feldman 2007). Cougar had been all but eliminated in the eastern U.S. by the 1870s (McCollough 2011; Young and Goldman 1946) and grizzly bear were mostly eradicated from the contiguous 48 states by 1920, existing only in isolated pockets in the northern Rocky Mountains (Mattson and Merrill 2002). Likewise, wolves, once common, were increasingly scarce throughout the lower 48. Writing in the 1890s, Theodore Roosevelt observed:
            “Formerly wolves were incredibly abundant in certain parts of the country, notably on the great plains…and were regular attendants on the great herds of the bison…Now, however, there is no district in which they are really abundant. The wolfers, or professional wolf-hunters, who killed them by poisoning for the sake of their fur, and the cattlemen, who likewise killed them…because of their raids on the herds, have doubtless been the chief instruments in working their decimation on the plains…they have become one of the rarest sights on the plains” (Roosevelt 1900)

            The situation was different in the intermountain West. Sparse human populations, great expanses of wilderness and generally rugged terrain made large carnivores harder to locate and kill. Moreover, conflicts with agriculture were more acute. Whereas the fertile ground of the eastern U.S. was dominated by row crops, the high-altitude, semi-arid West was unsuitable for such crops, so livestock grazing prevailed as the dominant form of agriculture. Thus, carnivores were at the same time more troublesome and harder to locate and kill. Nonetheless, the combination of state and federal policies—including bounties and professional assistance (by the Bureau of Biological Survey) were enough to rapidly overcome these obstacles. By 1930, wolves, cougars and grizzly bears were virtually eliminated from the intermountain west (Young 1944; Young and Goldman 1946; Bangs et al. 1998; Mattson and Merrill 2002). So effective were these efforts that bounties paid in the state of Montana for wolves decreased from more 4,000 in 1903 to zero in 1927—less than 25 years (Riley, Nesslage, and Maurer 2004). Even Yellowstone National Park, which had been set aside explicitly for the protection of wildlife, held no protection for wolves and cougars. The last known wolf den in Yellowstone was destroyed in 1923, the last of the wolves by 1926 (McNamee 1997).”

            • avatar ZeeWolf says:

              JB – I can only beg pardon if my reply and further discussion regarding bounties, etcetera is taking this post too far off-topic from Isle Royale.

              Also, I humbly apologize if I egregiously insulted your dignity and standing by implying that you did not know your business; that was not my intent.

              The gestalt of my experiences when conversing with wolf biologists, researchers and advocates is that many have only a passing interest or knowledge of the history of predator eradication in the United States. I have come to assume that generally most folks do knot know of this history and/or the players involved.

              At best, I am an amatueur naturalist who has participated in scientific field work in the past. I only can wish that I had the time and resources to better document some of my thoughts.

              I thoroughly enjoyed the “preview” of the article you posted regarding causes behind wolf extirpation. Cause and effect are difficult to discern. I like to think I have an open mind, and feel like I just got caught red-handed with one which is closed. I must admit that I had not before considered what would have occured wihtout federal intervention.

              “These assertions, of course, rarely acknowledge that we cannot know what would’ve happened were the federal control program not institutionalized or poisons not used.”

              I completely agree. Re-reading Young’s statements I now see how the cattlemen’s organizations and federal government may have merely expedited what was already a foregone conclusion.
              Certainly, the longterm history of bounties and pograms against wolves suggests that that would have been the end result.

              On the other hand, it is my understanding that by the late 1920’s and 30’s that there was a growing movement within the community of professional biologists that outright extermination of predators was misguided. Certainly, this did not prevent the Bureau of Biological Survey from conducting wolf eradication programs in the southwest up into the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. (I’m sabotaging my own argument here, but feel it is important to acknowledge in the interest of good, honest discussion). Without dedicated federal hunters and trappers in the field and only disunited efforts of bounty hunters wolves may very well have survived on the western landscape until more modern views came into vogue.

              • avatar JB says:

                No reason at all to apologize. Your comments were right on, and are in line with conventional thinking.

                I’m not sure exactly when the “movement” you mention started, but as late as the early 1920s Aldo Leopold and other conservationists were still making arguments in favor of eradication efforts. You can see that Leopold’s thinking changed by the time he wrote “Game Management” (i.e., published in 1933). The section on predators provides a much more thoughtful accounting of their effects.

              • avatar ZeeWolf says:

                My basis for stating that the “movement” gained momentum in the 1920’s is found in Michael J. Robinson’s book, Predator Bureaucracy (2005). He notes that in 1924 the American Society of Mammalogists had enough concerns to convene a committee to study the issue of predator extermination policies of the Bureau of Biological Survey.

                On page 196 he quotes Chief of Bureau (of Biological Survey) Reddington at a Bureau conference held in April, 1928 “Sharply aligned against us in connection with our predatory animal work are several elements whose voices at times are loud in condemnation of our efforts to reduce the numbers of stock-killing animals”. The “voices” alluded to were the independent, non-survey ASM biologists.

                Robison further implies that the ASM was opposed to the Animal Damage Control Act of 1931; thus it does not surprise me that Leopold’s change of thought occured between the early 20’s and 1933, as many of his cohorts and peers like E.R. Hall (who claimed to be accosted by thugs sent to prevent him from testifying before congress against predator control) were reaching similar conclusions during the same era.

                The issues presented by both sides seem very similar to those of today!

      • avatar ma'iingan says:

        “What did they do before the wolf hunts?”

        Wolf management was bankrolled by endangered species funds prior to delisting – no longer available now that wolves are under state management as wildlife.

    • avatar rork says:

      “Like it or not, Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf season provided sufficient funds to cover all the depredation payments for the year, with enough left over to support continuing research, monitoring, and depredation abatement.”
      I’m skeptical. Were the costs of administering the wolf hunt accounted for?

      • avatar ma'iingan says:

        I’m skeptical. Were the costs of administering the wolf hunt accounted for?

        Yes – I’m referencing net income. Not factored are one-time costs like setting up the ALIS permitting and warden training.

  14. avatar Richie G. says:

    opps meant deer

  15. avatar Richie G. says:

    THE MAGNIFICENT WOLF | Facebook
    Dietary flexibility helped bears and wolves survive after ice age…. Washington: A
    new study led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, …. It has
    come to our attention that information about an Oregon collared wolf that is ….
    State governments and resident hunters/trappers have been wantonly brutal and …
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-MAGNIFICENT-WOLF/129521537076373 – 781k – Cached – Similar Pages
    As I said before Staten Island New York had deer for 50 to 60 years when the first settlers got their. Could have been ten years, now for many years Staten Island had no deer. Recently Staten Island has deer, they swam over from New Jersey, of course they will not be their for long, very congested area. If you look into that article, the study tells how the wolf and bear survived the ice age, where the bigger predators did not survive. Ralph said a long time ago, if nature would be left alone their would be an equalizer, a balance of wildlife in general. The exact wording leaves me for a loss. But I believe if wolves would be left alone and not “harvested” a word I dislike things would reach an equilibrium.

  16. avatar Richie G. says:

    I must say some of you are so academic about , if it is wolves .bears, cougars ,whatever they all have a God given right to survive on the land they were born too. This is their home as much it is ours. A few years ago we had some coyote’s around our parks. My dogs sensed it. Well day off to work at about 5:30 A.M. on route 33 their was a dead dog in the middle of road, called the police, they told me it was a fox. No too big for a fox and on the Garden State Pky another so called dog by a police car dead, I believe another coyote. Well they took care of that problem , people I will never understand they think killing always a solution. Even our bear hunt they kill cubs and people passing where their kids pass the weigh in stations. They close their kids eyes why isn’t killing a solution. Hey look I could get out of line but respect to all and Ralph to let me say my peace I thank you.

  17. avatar Richie G. says:

    pardon the grammar did not proof it

  18. avatar Richie G. says:

    To JB; So it’s a good thing that winner in the Derby, would be sold to a person from Japan ,they he had it put in a slaughter house. When the slaughter houses are made for cows. So the horse has a long neck and many times do not get killed by the probe. SO it is cut open alive. Now in our country we have one slaughter house and another one being built for horses, that a good thing JB. So a horse who runs to win gets slaughtered! So we have he right to be inhumane too, I don’t think so.

    • avatar JB says:

      Richie:

      The word “right” is both a noun and an adjective:

      Right (adj.)
      (1) in accordance with what is good, proper, or just: right conduct.

      Right (noun)
      (1) a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral: You have a right to say what you please.

      I think my post was pretty clear–I used the word “right” in the legal sense (so as a noun, not an adjective):

      “..in fact, in the US we do have the right to ‘slaughter’ other animals. Chickens, turkey, hogs, cattle, sheep, and a variety of fish are legally slaughtered every day for our consumption. …[and]….In our country, people have some ‘rights’ guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and others provided by state constitutions (many of which stipulate a ‘right’ to hunt).”

      As to whether or not I think it is “right” (note: adj.) to slaughter animals for human consumption…well, that depends upon the conditions in which they are raised and slaughtered. So I’ll reserve my right (noun) to judge what is right (adj.) on a case-by-case basis. LOL!

      P.S. I have better things to do than worry about how horses are treated in Japan.

  19. avatar Richie G. says:

    JB you call it a right I call cruel.

    • avatar JB says:

      “JB you call it a right I call cruel.”

      Richie:

      To what does “it” refer? Please slow down and take the time to clearly articulate your thoughts.

  20. avatar WM says:

    Thought this thread was about Drs. Vucetich and Peterson’s written comments at the hearing.

    If these were submitted as written comments only )with no verbal testimony), I suspect they went over the heads of those who would read them for at least two reasons.

    They are a snore to read. No headings, with catchy summary points, and nobody in a legislature gives a rat’s ass about a critique of the North American Conservation Model as viewed by a couple of scientists. That is often the problem of academics they don’t know how to communicate to a specific audience.

    Then there is the part where a scientist sometimes confuses the role of a scientist and an “advocate.”

    “More than a quarte rmillion Michigan citizens signed a petition to repeal PA250….”

    This statement and what follows it has no place in testimony of a scientist ….testifying as a scientist.

    Is it scientifically defensible to hold a wolf hunt or not? Yes or No.

    Sorry. I am not impressed.

  21. avatar JB says:

    “If these were submitted as written comments only )with no verbal testimony), I suspect they went over the heads of those who would read them…”

    I believe there was oral testimony as well.

    “Then there is the part where a scientist sometimes confuses the role of a scientist and an “advocate.'”

    I don’t buy this for a second. These authors have actually written eloquently about this very topic (i.e., advocacy vs science):

    “From our analysis of the literature an argument emerges that to date has never been fully articulated: that advocacy is nearly unavoidable, and that scientists, by virtue of being citizens first and scientists second, have a responsibility to advocate to the best of their abilities, to improve their advocacy abilities, and to advocate in a justified and transparent manner.

    (Nelson & Vucetich. Conservation Biology, 23(5): DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01250.x)

    Typically, at this sort of hearing scientists are asked to give their professional opinion. This, of course, constitutes more than the sum of their published research. I would argue that, in this context it would be irresponsible for a scientist not to point out perceived flaws in policy simply because they don’t have data in-hand to scientifically evaluate each claim. In this case, the argument is relatively simple. The authors’ state:

    “The best available science clearly indicates that we have the technical ability to manage a wolf hunt without endangering the population viability of Michigan wolves. But there is no science that concludes it is necessary to hunt wolves in Michigan.”

    As they go on to point out, if you use scientific evidence to evaluate the justifications provided for hunting wolves, you find that these justifications are not well reasoned. Moreover, you also find a failure to articulate any goal relative to these justifications. Ideally, the management process should look something like this:

    (1) Articulate socially-desirable outcome (e.g., reduction in cattle depredations).

    (2) Create policy designed to attain socially-desirable outcome (e.g., wolf hunt).

    (3) Establish a goal for evaluating the success or failure of the policy (e.g., 20% reduction in cattle depredations).

    (4) Use available science to determine the likelihood that the means (i.e., policy) will be useful for achieving the ends (i.e., outcome).

    Michigan has failed on nearly all of these fronts. One is left wondering what the “real” goal of the wolf hunt is? What desired end is justifying the means? Re-election?

  22. avatar Snaildarter says:

    I’m disappointed in Michigan I had hoped that once we got beyond the Red states things would get more rational.

  23. avatar Ross Kardon says:

    Thriving wolf populations do indeed belong the eco-system and they should be protected when they are breeding.

    At the same time, ecologically sustainable hunting of some the wolves is necessary to manage and control them, and maintain the ecological balance. This can and should be done with ethical, fair-chase sport hunting.

    Wolf haters who want to exterminate all of the wolves because they do not want competition for deer, moose, elk, and other herbivores. And animal-right fanatics who are against all hunting and trapping of wildlife. Are both equally wrong and ignorant!

    Environmentalists who hunt should oppose the extremism happening on both sides.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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