Untabulated comments overwhelmingly opposed hunt-
More were just tossed away-

One of the most consistent characteristics of right wing movements is a distaste for democracy.  From the beginning with Edmund Burke (1729-1797) who invented the word “conservatism,” is the argument that some small elite knows better than the public. Whether based on land ownership or other property, supposed religious entitlement (God wants us to rule), or perhaps the ability to mystically understand what the people need, conservatives then and now try to limit public expression and voting.  This political force recently had its way in the management of Michigan’s restored wolf population.

Many citizens of Michigan wanted to have a vote whether to establish a wolf hunt, and a referendum was in the making. Referendums are a device of direct democracy. They are admittedly imperfect. Still, it is an empirical question whether on the balance referenda are useful. Regardless of the evidence, conservatives have had a philosophical dislike for the referendum, the initiative and recall elections even though they have been able to use them successfully in to advance their causes in many states.

In Michigan, led by State Senator Tom Casperson, the referendum on the wolf hunt was suddenly snatched away by the state legislature when it looked like there would be a referendum on a proposal. Casperson said he wanted the experts at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to decide the issue with a bit of public voice added. In reality, it is clear the Commission had few experts on wildlife (one?) and the public voice was simply thrown away.

The latter was made obvious when members of  the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected got hold of public comments the NRC had received on the wolf hunt question but never released or tabulated. In a laborious task of tabulating the discarded comments, which were in a hard to count format on a jump drive, it was discovered that the comments had overwhelmingly opposed the wolf hunt.  The wolf conservation group found that just 13 of the 3,650 tabulated comments favored a wolf hunt. Strikingly another 2000 public comments were simply thrown away by the NRC chairman. He admitted this in an email.

So there is good reason to suspect public opinion does not favor the hunt, which, by the way, began two days ago. Democracy on the issue is not solidly in the grave. A second attempt to have a referendum was successful. It will be held as part of the 2014 mid-term elections. The 2013 hunt might be the last Michigan wolf hunt as well as the first.

The tabulation of the comments and the issue of public opinion, or the lack of it, was examined yesterday. See, Wolf Hunt: Public Comments for Public Acts. by Rick Tarsitano. ABC10.

Senator Tom Casperson has remained controversial, most recently for admitting to telling false wolf stories to scare up the votes for his position in the state legislature. He now apologizes. Michigan Senator apologizes for fictional wolf story in resolution: ‘I am accountable, and I am sorry’. By Jonathan Oosting. MLive.com.






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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

109 Responses to Michigan Natural Resources Commission threw away public comments on wolf hunt

  1. Louise Kane says:

    Ralph, thank you!

  2. Oliver Starr says:

    The actions of Tom Casperson and the MI DNR are nothing short of outrageous. The ensuing #wolf #hunt is #slaughter under false pretenses. I for one believe it should be immediately halted and a full investigation conducted.

    I was one of several volunteers that was tabulating the comments and made the discovery of the email that was shown in the videos. The MI public should be absolutely outraged by this complete disregard for the public will and the contempt Casperson and the DNR have for the intelligence and opinion of the Michigan taxpayers. Not only was there an utter landslide of public opposition to the hunt but the very few in favor of the hunt self identified as trappers!

    People should use social media to let the MI Governor, Rick Snyder (@onetoughnerd on twitter) know exactly how they feel about what was done!

    • Louise Kane says:

      It is difficult to understand how the hunt moved forward in light of the information that is now out there including the comment trashing, the lies, and the bypassing of the voter referendum. There were five of us that tabulated all of the comments. The astounding part of the effort was that only 13 comments were for a hunt, and while we will never know what all the trashed comments said its easy enough to guess that they were not for the hunt. Oliver perhaps you’d like to post the actual e mail, between the parties, about trashing the comments…its rather appalling to see such disregard for democracy. The newsis out so we don’t have to sit on it anymore. The words in the e mail sting

    • Mike says:

      The governor won’t do anything just like the no good DNR. They both will just keep putting hush money in their pockets. Michigan people need to make a move on this.

  3. Richie G. says:

    At least this was found out, maybe something will be done. For sure the governor is in trouble, I do not know when he is up for election, but I will bet some house and senate people are in trouble of getting kicked out in the next election. As for the wolves I feel very bad very bad. Isn’t Montana, Idaho, Wyoming enough!

  4. Ida Lupine says:

    I really hope those responsible for this are held accountable, and more than just an apology from what reminds me of a schoolboy at the principal’s office caught in a lie(s) and ‘fessing up because he has to.

  5. Rita k Sharpe says:

    It’s so easy to say I’m sorry after the fact. Mr. Casperson got the results he wanted, plan and simple.

  6. constance collier says:

    Our Govt. is allowing this country’s wildlife to be slaughtered for money, they have sold them out to the highest bidder. The only thing they are concerned about is lining their pockets. We the people do not support this massacre nor do we support anyone in office that is allowing it. We Will remember come election time.

  7. Victoria Brill says:

    Funny after the hunt start this is made public. Agree the hunt should be halted immediately and those responsible fined for misrepresentation and falsifying documents And anything else they can

  8. Ida Lupine says:

    In this article, it says they’re killing wolves in Michigan because of ‘fearless behavior’. Also, does anyone know why they need to collect those ‘materials’? Ugh. Sounds a bit macabre and superstitious to me.

    Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog/a>

  9. john says:

    “Whether based on land ownership or other property, supposed religious entitlement (God wants us to rule), or perhaps the ability to mystically understand what the people need, conservatives then and now try to limit public expression and voting. ”

    Sort of like harry reid not bringing anything to a vote that will discredit anything that he doesn’t like the answer to,,, or,, better yet,, the govt telling us what health policies are good for us or bad for us,,,,, seems like the same thing you are accusing these people of doing,,, at least be fair in your assessment.

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      Things don’t come to a vote in the U.S. Senate because of Harry Reid blocking them. The blockade is because almost every bill of substance is being filibustered by the minority party. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster and have a vote on a bill. The current majority party only has 55 seats.

      The filibuster is another anti-democratic procedure in that it requires a supermajority (60%)to proceed to a vote on the bill. Both Democrats and Republicans use it, though only when they are in the minority.

      For anything to change in the U.S. Senate, majority leader Reid needs to hold a vote on weakening the filibuster itself. To do so, is informally called the “nuclear option.”

      Regarding government policies. By definition “a policy” is what the government does or does not do regarding some matter of public controversy. That a health policy makes decisions about health care is pretty much true by definition. I think you simply do not like this particular policy.

      • SaveBears says:

        Anti-Democratic? Perhaps in your mind Ralph and I know it is a great mind, but the filibuster has been part of the American political scene for a long time.

        • SAP says:

          . . . and Senators were not elected directly for almost 125 years (17th Amendment ratified 31 May 1913). Tradition does not equate to justice. Letting a very small minority bring the legislature to a halt is not right. I’d venture a guess that it’s not what the founders intended, either. The founders wanted a bicameral legislature, with the Senate equalizing the influence of each state regardless of population, as a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority. Reprobates like Mitch McConnell have clearly taken to abusing these safeguards, preventing the government from getting normal business done.

          • Ralph Maughan says:


            I believe that this kind obstruction simply cannot continue, especially now that they are filibustering all nominations.

            Five years of this (or less) and I think this nation-state (United States of America) will be gone. The Balkinized States of America is going to be one poor, violent and miserable place.

            • SAP says:

              Agreed. I’m reminded of an old “Dilbert” comic, in which the bumbling and thoughtless boss tells an employee, “Work like a frightened idiot!”


              That’s us — anxious, unimaginative serfs. The extremely rich overlords have figured out how to keep us docile and divided. We fight each other over crumbs that fall from their table. Anything that makes sense — collective bargaining, single-payer health insurance, tax increases on the rich — they just stamp “SOCIALISM” all over it and the idea sinks like a stone. Why don’t we like alleged “socialist” ideas? Because we think it’s the antithesis of our “freedom.” Yep — freedom to be an anxious serf.

              Late empire is never a pretty sight . . .

        • Ralph Maughan says:


          Of course the filibuster has been around a long time. Anyone with just passing acquaintance with American government knows that.

          Furthermore, textbooks on American government freely admit that it is an anti-majoritarian device. They often suggest classes debate whether this makes it a good or a bad thing, or whatever.

          The important point today about this restraint on majorities (“anti-democratic”) is that its use has increased until almost nothing passes the U.S. Senate. This Congress has passed less legislation than any since the Civil War (maybe before).

          John said the fault lies with Harry Reid, but no. Reid is the majority leader. Filibusters are almost always used by the minority party. Reid is powerful and Republicans would call him “bad,” but he is not responsible for there being almost no votes in the Senate.

          Here is the relevant graph. http://newsjunkiepost.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Cloture-Invoked3Final.png

          • WM says:


            Just curious, do you know (or have you read the works of) James Thurber at American University, who founded and is the Director of Congressional and Presidential Studies there?

          • WM says:

            A worthwhile reading from Professor Thurber, an academic expert on the workings of Congress and the Presidency regarding the things that are wrong with our federal government and require a fix (which he believes President Obama has attempted). Note references to lobbying and the unacceptable use of Congressional maneuvering techniques now used more frequently, including the filibuster. He has a particular disdain for earmark funding and riders on bills:


            • Ralph Maughan says:


              I agree with Prof.Thurber. I have always argued that riders ruin democratic accountability. They let legislators off the hook no matter how they vote because they can always blame any yea or nay vote they cast on the bill with a rider on the rider (or vice versa). Of course, we are now in a far worse situation than that in that nothing is predictable in Congress and hardly anything becomes law except as part of some desperate last minute deal.

              • Louise Kane says:

                I thought many times and especially after the Tester rider, that the American people deserve a rider outlawing riders!

              • Immer Treue says:


                Political science is most definitely not my strong point, but for the life of me, I do not understand why something like the line item veto has not been enacted.

        • Louise Kane says:

          SB you often use the argument that its legal or in this instance that its been around a long time. Just because the filibuster has been around a long time does not exclude its use as a tool that is used essentially to bypass the underlying principles of democracy. Just as being legal does not always equate to being just, fair or especially representative of the collective will of a constituency. Nowhere is this truer than in MI right now. The hunt is legal but democracy was subverted by special interests and by a corrupt legislature and state agencies. Being legal or being “around for a long time” do not preclude challenges for a better or more just or representative outcome.

          • SaveBears says:


            I have made no statements on the MI issue, if it is true that they circumvented the people by destroying documentation, then they have broke the law and committed illegal acts. If true and it sounds like it is, they need to be punished.

  10. Ida Lupine says:

    Ugh. I am so creeped out by the Great Lakes states and Casperson – only MN isn’t as bad as MI and WI, at least so far.

    But for every Ted Nugent there’s an Iggy Pop:

    Wild One


  11. Ida Lupine says:

    I guess this is why I’m a little disturbed by the samples being taken. Sounds a little too similar:


  12. Moose says:

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m encouraged by the approach the DNR is taking – whether the game commission takes it seriously is another matter…Below is an excellent summary of the MI DNRs approach and goals of the hunt.


    • JB says:


      The DNR is claiming that the hunt is all about reducing conflicts, but there are several problems with their approach:

      (1) If you’re having conflicts with wolves, do you really want to wait around until hunting season to see them resolved? No, you want them dealt with right away.

      (2) The DNR has claimed that hunting will teach some wolves to be more fearful of humans. The problem is, these wolves are already ‘hunted’ both by poachers and via government control programs. Wolves are smart, but I’m pretty sure they can’t tell the difference between a poacher and a guy with a valid permit.

      (3) There is incredible year-to-year variation in the number of depredations (many of which came from one farm). The problem comes in assessing whether or not the intervention (hunting) has had an effect; essentially, there is so much year to year variation that the signal is not easily separated from the noise–or put another way, the DNR will not be able to tell whether any reduction is due to the hunt or some other cause.

      These are just a few of the issues with the hunt MI has proposed.

      • Mareks Vilkins says:

        Wolves are smart, but I’m pretty sure they can’t tell the difference between a poacher and a guy with a valid permit.



        when wolf population is regularly hunted wolves learn to make distinction between humans with a rifle and unarmed ones

        • Ida Lupine says:

          Then they’ll learn to avoid both hunters and scientists. Yay!

        • Immer Treue says:

          As I have written before, I don’t think a wolf can learn if it is dead. Up here, most hunting is done in tree stands. Depending on rifle, and skill of the rifles user, a wolf won’t even know the shooter is there. How do wolves learn from that?

          Also, if 50% of the wolves killed < one year of age, and, as discussed before, if age cohorts of wolves are arranged in fashion of a pyramidical, with youngest forming the base and eldest on top, last years data might lead one to conclude that very close to the same % of each age cohort of wolves were killed.

          I just don't buy into the wolves will learn to avoid humans hunting theory. Wolves will always follow food; if one feeds deer, which MN DNR suggest not to do, you will bring in wolves. And again, I don't believe data supports wolves avoiding people anymore than prior to wolf hunting. Some argument may be made for areas of agriculture/ranching, yet these people are allowed to eliminate problem wolves, and we just endured a rather tough Winter up here, and studies seem to support livestock predation sinks after a Winter with a high severity index, with deer being more heavily preyed upon due to overall weakness resulting from
          Just surviving the Winter.

          • Mareks Vilkins says:

            I haven’t read your post on that aspect – sorry about that but it’s conventional wisdom among hunters (at least in countries of the former USSR) that they actually do.

            You can’t prove that wolf saw and avoided hunter before wolf herself was noticed – all you have are statistics that a majority of shot wolves consists of young ones. But it’s possible that breeding pairs take a notice and behave accordingly in the next season.

            And wolf can see how the hunter takes down ungulate with a rifle or bow and learn from that accordingly. There are many ways how they can learn who should be avoided.

            Besides that, wolves are territorial animals and probability to run into humans ain’t that low to jump to conclusions (about their learning capacity)if wolves get shot

            • Nancie Mccormish says:

              Mareks, your comment reminded me of a book called “The Wolf in the Parlor” by (if I recall correctly) Jon Franklin. In he he makes a good case that people didn’t domesticate wolves, but rather wolves domesticated humans. I have not been around many wolves (only heard some in Quetico years ago) but it makes sense to me wolves would discriminate between different people to suit their own agendas. It wouldn’t surprise me if they could “read” a person’s intent if they are armed versus unarmed, or be able to discern the scent of gunpowder. In your experience would a wolf differentiate between an armed and an unarmed, but say carrying gunpowder residue, person?

          • Louise Kane says:

            and not that it applies to MI hunting of wolves but then factor in trapping and wolves….how do they learn anything when there is no safe place to rest, traverse, eat, drink when the streams and hunting areas as well as traveling routes are laden with traps and the woods become minefields?

        • JB says:


          The point is, wolves are being regularly killed by people with guns (both wildlife services and poachers). So the assertion is that wolves will learn to avoid people above and beyond what they’ve already learned. Immer’s comments notwithstanding, I find this assertion extremely dubious.

          • Mareks Vilkins says:

            no JB,

            there’s a difference between being capable to recognize the hunter as a mortal threat and to dodge him at all times. Wolves are not afraid of rural workers or loggers but they try to run away from hunters (if they see one)

            • Immer Treue says:

              There lies the conundrum. Wolves are either secretive or not. Once dead, all learning ends. It’s tough to learn when someone in a tree stand or a blind shoots at 100+ meters and your dead. Learning stops when oxygen stops reaching the brain.

              Lots of wolf sign around here now in form of scats. Little to no snow, hunters taking marginal shots(not anti hunting as I’ve been spending time in tree stands)and can’t find their deer. Wolves are finding them though.

              • Mareks Vilkins says:


                it seems you are a little obsessed with insight that the wolf can’t learn anything when he’s dead

                if wolf avoids hunter 9 times but next time he’s killed – what does that mean? that wolf isn’t capable of learning?

              • Immer Treue says:


                My point is, how do you learn from something you cannot hear, don’t know from where it came, and even if you see it, it’s the last thing you ever see.

                My feeling is if a wolf avoids a hunter nine times before its finally killed, it was lucky, until that last time.

              • Louise Kane says:

                I have read many times that coyotes have become nocturnal creatures because they are so vastly persecuted. Learning that being out during the daytime is dangerous for them, dusk and dawn is when you may see them. I don’t know about wolves and whether hunting has that effect on them but I do believe that hunting by humans alters the behavior of most animals in ways that I find extremely disturbing. I find it astounding that humans create such hostile environments for species that they must be active primarily in the night. this is a learned behavior or response to a repeated condition….what will wolves do now in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, WI, MN? how will the almost endless cycles of killing in some of those states affect them? learning? reactive response, survival mechanism….

              • Immer Treue says:


                I believe nocturnal activity by coyotes/wolves is more a matter of rods vs cones. For cones to be effective, one requires light. Rods much less so. Once evening sets in, the world is just shades of gray. In evolutionary perspective, at least in the north woods, there is very little need for mammals to have color vision.

                It’s a hoot up here when walking along at night, a deer huffs at you, then it goes crashing through the woods. Granted they have “four wheel drive”, but if you tried that with your cone laden eyes, you’d end up face planting with your first few strides.

            • WM says:

              My suspicion is that loggers do more than their share of 3S, because they are in the woods where the wolves are. Wolves often travel on roads and skid trails and are curious. Loggers are also in the woods more often throughout the year.

              I also tend to believe most loggers don’t like wolves, since many loggers are opportunist hunters of elk and deer, as well. At least that is what my experiences in Idaho suggest. There is nearly always a scoped gun available in the Easy Rider rifle rack in a pick-up or log truck. So, with those factors in mind, I don’t think there is much to distinguish a hunter from a logger or other forest worker, or even a state government worker (ID I think still has a policy that a forest worker can keep a gun in the truck during hunting season), much of the time.

            • JB says:

              “…there’s a difference between being capable to recognize the hunter as a mortal threat and to dodge him at all times. Wolves are not afraid of rural workers or loggers but they try to run away from hunters (if they see one)”

              With respect: You’re still missing my point. There are already people in the woods with guns “hunting” wolves. So wolves have ALREADY been conditioned to avoid people (or in your view, avoid people with guns)–in either case the mechanism by which they would allegedly learn (i.e., people with guns trying to kill them) is ALREADY present.

              • Mareks Vilkins says:


                my point is that:

                1)one cannot extrapolate from the data about killed wolves (age cohorts of wolves, the percentage of adult wolf females who had litter + litter’s size)to get a clue whether wolves are changing their behavior in response to intensive wolf killing

                2)what matters are not how many youngsters are killed but how many breeding pairs survive hunting season (and to a lesser degree poachers)

                3)we need to wait for 5 such hunting seasons to see how well surviving breeding pairs are adjusting themselves to new reality

                4)I doubt assertion that when wolf is killed it was his first and last encounter with a hunter – my take is that before wolf was taken down he had more than one occasion to experience hunter in action (when he has killed or injured ungulate or other game)

                5) not every shot is a clean one so the wolf who survives injury must learn smth

    • Louise Kane says:

      the DNR is an appointed, not elected body. The only member of the DNR that has a science based background is against hunting wolves, and the DNR trashed public comments against hunting wolves and disregarded their constituency, what is encouraging about their approach?

  13. Colleen Hunt says:

    One wolf hunted, trapped, poisoned, and killed for any reason is one wolf too many. One needless slaughter affects the entire pack. It’s wrong and inhumane to hunt wolves for sport. This is the 21st Century. Let’s think if better ways to deal with wolves in their ecosystems when cattle and expensive hunting dogs are affected. As for children not being able to play in their yards for fear of wolf encounters, parents need to simply better supervise their
    children. Please save the Michigan wolves from the proposed 43-wolf hunt. Preserve wolves worldwide.

  14. Heather G says:

    There should be some serious consequences brought against our elected officials who forget that they are employed by the people and not the industry that can pay them the most money. Its shameful. They should all be removed and this hunt should be stopped while its sorted out. This will be the last hunt ever.

  15. Ida Lupine says:

    The Michigan DNR has been caught lying also. You can no longer trust a word these ‘politicians’ say, if you ever could. The Great Lakes region may have the RMW beat for dishonesty – who’d have thought?

    It just seems like such a trial-and-error waste (does taking out the Alpha male affect the pack? well, duh!) and just an excuse for hunting and removal because of irrational human fears and assumptions. Don’t we have a lot of this data collected already? Do they do this with black bears and other animals? I have never seen an animal that has been the subject of such attention and scrutiny as the wolf.

    I did a little more reading about this ghastly subject and to my shock and surprise, it has been done.



    Even the so-called beleaguered elk have been or are going to be the subject of such a study!

    This kind of persecution of an animal is sick. Sterilization is even worse than hunting, and does nothing to address predation!

    We’ve got to stop with these self-serving and unethical experiments.

  16. CodyCoyote says:

    2014 is shaping up to be an interesting election season…from sea to shining sea. And from your neighborhood catch pond to a Great Lake as well.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      I keep a mixed, but mostly fond remembrance of my days in Madison. Wisconsin was then a very enlightened and progressive place compared to my home states of Utah and Idaho.

      Other than one trip to Ann Arbor though, I have never had a reason to return to the Great Lakes. So I don’t write much about Great Lakes wildlife. Nevertheless, every month I give money to try to frustrate Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. When I was in school my bête noire was a state legislator named Gordon Roselip. Years later now I still hope he died some loathsome death.

  17. rork says:

    After some of you are done saying how terrible we are in Michigan, please keep watching how things unfold, and whether it’s really that bad compared to other states. I’ll wager ( and hope) we will have saner wolf policy than any other state with substantial wolf numbers, even if we continue to have sport hunts. Let’s see how how much voice your citizens have in these affairs in your state and compare.
    Separate issue, not new:
    I think the underlying reason for our DNR to want the hunt is to change attitudes about wolves, trying to turn them into trophy game. This may have helped with acceptance of our black bears here for example. You get hunters on your side, and the money revolving around the hunting is appreciated by the local economies. So more people accept the bear presence. The desire of deer hunters up there to kill predators is high and perhaps irrational, and having wolves be seen as rare trophy hunting opportunities might help. They might be seen as more than just the enemy – and please believe me that perhaps most hunters don’t see them that way already, and instead consider it an honor to get to just see one. One trouble: a few wolves being hunted has rather small economic impact. Another: deer hunters are slow to get that even if 20000 deer are eaten every year, it’s not a disaster – we explain it to them the 3rd time and they still don’t get it, but recite some more anecdotes, and ignore the data. These are the DNR’s clientele, and they want the customers to like them, even if customer is wrong. They may have thought wolf hunt would make the customers happy.
    I’ve been thinking more about how states fund DNRs lately.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      I suppose you are right Rork, let’s see how it goes. It’s just that WI has made such a bad show of it, but we’ll see.

    • Mareks Vilkins says:

      I’ve been thinking more about how states fund DNRs lately.


    • JB says:


      I agree with your comments about the DNR’s underlying motives; however, based upon a variety of research I have seen, I do not believe it will have the desired effect (i.e., increasing tolerance).

      And I also agree that Michigan’s approach is better than pretty much anywhere else (save MN). Yet, while I agree that MI’s policy is better than policies of WI, ID, MT, and WY, it is still poor policy (for the reasons I explain, above).

      • rork says:

        I tend to agree with both your paragraphs JB, as usual, though I am far from certain about the tolerance thing.
        My point was about the future. We may loose the sanity award to MN, if so, good for them, they deserve to win for several reasons.

      • rork says:

        Maybe I’ll try more about tolerance, or actually it’s things aside from that perhaps.
        Our DNR is quite unpopular among some sportspeople. Caricature says “DNR charge more money for licenses, mismanage our deer (for any number of reasons, often opposing reasons for different hunters), ticket us for trivial violations, outlaw fun stuff we want to do, mismanaged pheasants and any species of fish we aren’t catching lately, lie about population estimates of cougar, wolf, deer, and employ people not liked cause of their genitals or skin color. There’s nothing they do right.”
        DNR may risk loosing some control. There are threats of folks not tagging deer or buying fishing licenses cause of prices or disdain for our DNR, and of course there’s poaching wolves for glory and sticking it to the man, or the imagined greater good of deer, children and grandma (DNR is to blame for wolves too btw). Outlawry of many flavors is much more common than I want to say I’m afraid, though it’s getting better. Wolf hunt helps DNR get chummy with the crowd. Improves credibility. Maybe we’ll see DNR aren’t so bad after all. I really don’t want poachers on the Pure Michigan news either.
        If you counter “but the outlawry won’t decrease, at minimum the evidence is not there”, I have nothing. DNR might have hoped it influenced the number of deer tags and fish licenses sold, not just how it affected wolf poaching. The licenses are almost everything, poached wolves, not so much. If DNR thought thus, were they right? No idea. That’s hard.

        • Immer Treue says:


          That reads well, especially if put to the tune of Dylan’s “Subteranean Homesick Blues”.

        • JB says:

          “Wolf hunt helps DNR get chummy with the crowd. Improves credibility.”

          So really what you’re talking about isn’t tolerance for wolves, it is tolerance for the state agency that manages them?

          • Louise Kane says:

            The hunting to create tolerance argument is playing itself out in increasingly aggressive wolf hunting seasons and methods. But in MI Rork, the citizens of your state do not appear to want wolves hunted. They actually demonstrate a great tolerance for wolves as evidenced by not one, but two very successful referendum/citizen’s initiatives, in addition to public comments. Calling for a hunt creates a legal justification to kill wolves through public hunts in a state where conflict is low, save for a very few farms, and where public tolerance is already high and opposition to a hunt strong. In the context of wolves, and the history of persecution against them, it seems much more progressive to embrace existing tolerance rather than try to justify hunting as means to tolerance? why step backwards to a policy that clearly does not achieve the desired outcome, especially if tolerance is the goal and if that tolerance is already demonstrated?

            • rork says:

              I hope its clear I’m not trying to justify MI wolf hunt, just exploring DNR/NRC thought processes. I want MI to be the state without sport wolf hunting (until I’m convinced it’s useful). We will still have to decide which wolves get killed though, so I’m not planning a party.
              I’m not convinced tolerance has been demonstrated, especially in U.P.
              Check back next Nov, when we’ll know what the tickled dragon had to say.

              • Louise Kane says:

                I would agree Rork that in the UP tolerance seems to be much lower but yet even there people appear to be much more tolerant of living with wolves. This appears to be so despite the efforts by the state agencies, DNR and some legislators that have done everything they can to whip up a frenzy of anti-wolf sentiment using fear, intimidation, lies and borderline -if not truly -illegal activities. The legality of trashing comments has not been investigated properly imho. Thankfully Michigan residents seem to be an unusual breed that actually want to prevent wasteful and wanton wildlife “management” practices. On another point, when I was making calls on behalf of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign, I always asked these two questions to the aides who answered the legislator’s phones, 1) are you receiving many calls about this issue and 2) if so, do the calls seem to be for or against the wolf hunt? One aide, in the UP said they had received more calls about the wolf hunt than any other subject including gay rights, abortion issues or the economy and that most calls were against wolf hunting. I was duly impressed. I was so busy at the time making calls – in the aftermath of the first referendum when the campaign learned that Casperson was working to pass the sleazy legislation – that I did not make notes. My mistake. But I am finding as I track comments and make calls that there is little expressed support for killing wolves except for the two lobbies that are given such preferential treatment at the expense of wolves and the rest of us that see these wolf plans/hunts as wasteful, ignorant and destructive. I think it’s going to be increasingly important to ask that public comments are tracked and reported to the public. I believe that these reports will reveal exactly how preferential, undesired, and lopsided the current wolf killing policies are.

          • Immer Treue says:

            And the tolerance for that state agency increases with an expanded wolf season. Be interesting to see what happens next year. Smoke and mirrors, or true conservation. Or is it, ultimately about $$$?

            • JB says:

              “And the tolerance for that state agency increases with an expanded wolf season.”

              Yes, exactly. The problem they face is that these folks representing a decreasing portion of the population and they risk alienating the urban majority who thinks this hunt smells of politics. These are the very folks whom the DNR wants to ‘recruit’ to contribute to their conservation efforts. What do you suppose their attitude toward contributing will be after these shenanigans run their course?

              • Immer Treue says:


                “And the tolerance for that state agency increases with an expanded wolf season.”

                I was paraphrasing your comment.

                ““Wolf hunt helps DNR get chummy with the crowd. Improves credibility.”

                So really what you’re talking about isn’t tolerance for wolves, it is tolerance for the state agency that manages them?”

                The remainder of my statement contains my often used sarcasm, as I believe the MI wolf hunt is nothing more than a foot in the door.

              • Louise Kane says:

                Immer it is exactly that a foot in the door, thankfully many of the residents of MI are fighting hard for wolves

  18. Wolfy says:

    Don’t forget that the real power driving the MI NRC is the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). They claim 100,000 members in MI and hold sway over the NRC and the MI House. And the MUCC is very anti-wolf. They have proposed and have had adopted things like the wolf hunt and wolf bounties. Odd thing, many of their supposed members are environmental and wolf supporters (MI TNC, MI Nature Conservancy, etc.) I’ll bet that many of the pro-wolf folks don’t know that a portion of their membership dues goes to the MUCC to support their anti-wolf agenda.

    • rork says:

      MUCC reflects the views of our hook and bullet citizens fairly closely, conservationists not-so-much. It’s often very good in my opinion. They helped get license fee increase recently, supported early youth-only hunting seasons, and lots of other common-sense things where my fellow hunters and anglers agree with me. But on issues like road-closures and wilderness we will differ, lately anyway. If hunter’s minds change, they will also change, and not slowly.

  19. Zig Pope says:

    This is an emerging trend with all the state’s DNR. Corruption and utter refusal to do the bidding of the voters.

    We are seeing this in virtually every state.

  20. Mareks Vilkins says:


    forget about ” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)…. and …the argument that some small elite knows better than the public”,- instead as an anti-dote one should promote such an unsung hero of direct democracy as the Diggers’ leader Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676):

    `Action is the life of all and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing`- Gerrard Winstanley


    • Ralph Maughan says:


      Thanks. I’d recommend Henry George. He knew that the biggest economic problem and political problem in the United States, at least, was the rent seekers, a term maybe only one in a hundred Americans is familiar with.

      • Mareks Vilkins says:

        ok Ralph,

        I will do my homework on that one

      • Mareks Vilkins says:

        Henry George’s Political Critics


        “Rent theory came to be so closely associated with George’s increasingly
        pro-capital, anti-labor and anti-government politics that the land tax began to sound crankish, prompting other reformers to avoid it. Even critics of property came to reject George. The reforms of the New Deal
        in the United States and of Britain’s Labour Party and other European
        social democratic parties followed just the opposite political alignment and strategy from that which he advocated. Their reforms were successful; the Single Tax was left standing at the gate.”

        “By turning the Henry George Schools into a funnel into the anti-tax ideology of Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, George’s followers have walked into
        an effective political wall, while breaking with the opposite wing of the political spectrum that still treats Progress and Poverty as a socialist classic. This political position reflects that of George himself.”

        • Ralph Maughan says:


          You are a quick study!

          Actually I didn’t want to defend Henry George so much except to raise the issue of economic rents, which he wanted to tax at 100% on land.

          My view follows much of the criticism of him that you posted. I think one of the most fundamental problems in the Unites States today comes from rentiers and people similar to them who collect income and/or maintain their wealth not by any kind of productive economic activity. Instead they collect passively, benefiting from the talent and work of others, due to tax laws that favor “unearned” income and also treat the inheritance of great wealth as something beneficial rather than the institutionalization of unearned privilege.

          • Ralph Maughan says:

            Some might ask, “what does this have to do with wildlife?” Well it is my view that “successful” ranchers owe a huge amount of their economic success not to any real productivity, but to them being in a position to collect economic rent.

            • Nancie Mccormish says:

              Ralph, isn’t this our Capitalism model though? The siphoning of “surplus value” from those who actually work, then profiting by expanding the gap between actual costs to keep labor (or environment)just barely alive and then selling (or investing) for as high a return as possible?

              • Ralph Maughan says:

                The United States has fallen into a system of “rentier “capitalism” which I would say is a subset of capitalism.

                As defined in the Wikipedia, rentier capitalism is “a term currently used to describe economic practices of parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society.”

                I would say it results in not only a bleak inequality of wealth, but an overall lack of productivity, serving to depress the economic well being of those who do the real production in the economy but even that wealth of all but top economic parasites themselves.

  21. Jim T. says:

    “Referendums are a device of direct democracy. They are admittedly imperfect. Still, it is an empirical question whether on the balance referenda are useful.”

    Actually it is a normative philosophical question whether they are useful.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Jim T.

      Yes, I think you are mostly right. Upon reflection I’d say a summary evaluation of the results of the devices of direct democracy is both a normative and an empirical question.

  22. Ken Cole says:

    I’m sure by now that people have noticed that I have started to keep a tally in the sidebar of wolves killed in the hunts this year in all 6 states. It appears that in both Wisconsin and Minnesota that wolves were pretty easy to kill as soon as the seasons started and many of the zones closed very quickly. An outlier seems to be the large zone 3 in Wisconsin where only 28 of the 71 quota have been killed. Either there weren’t as many wolves there as they thought or they are trying to kill as many as they can.

    • Immer Treue says:


      ma’iingan would be the best at addressing the Wisconsin Zone 3 “anomaly”.

      I’ll put a guess out there, possibly to stir up shtuuft, perhaps not. But did they designate one area at an impossibly high quota number so the hounders get a crack at wolves in a sort of controlled experiment. Or is it just an area, by luck of the draw where the enthusiasm for wolf hunting/trapping is just not present?

  23. Louise Kane says:

    Your guess is disturbing Immer but nothing is out of the realm ….nothing off limits in the dirty fight against wolves

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Isn’t it just awful. I sometimes am at a loss for words. I can’t imagine why people haven’t progressed at all in the 21st century. Wolves are going to have to be protected always in order for them to not be wiped out entirely in the future. It’s worse today because we are a different society than back in the 1800s, I don’t know how to account for this behavior.

  24. Ida Lupine says:

    Articles I have been reading try to make it sound like the wolves are difficult to hunt, but the statistics speak for themselves. 200 wolves killed in a month or less! Squeezed into smaller habitat and with better weaponry and technology, and many more hunters vying for tags, it is much, much easier than ever before. I have a feeling the party will be over for these guys very soon – the pace can’t be kept up without facing relisting. Whatever quick money or ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity remain isn’t going to last long. I think we’re seeing some ‘uh-oh’ moments right now.

    • Immer Treue says:

      The “legend” of wolves being a tough hunt extends from the days when there were very few wolves remaining, and the grizzled wolfers, that were pursuing these rare canids.

      It’s now a war zone with thousands poised with bullet, arrow, trap or snare with more than a few wolves. That wolves are that tough of a kill is drought with the same fallacy that wolves will learn. Sorry, there will just be fewer of them.

      • Nancy says:

        Immer – Probably shouldn’t be going “there” but its interesting to look at the variables of each county (in Wisconsin) with regard to poverty & unemployment levels:



        and wondering if there are a lot of “angry white guys” (and their gals 🙂 in the state, taking their frustrations out, where ever possible, on a part of nature that has nothing to do with their problems but….. they’ve been given the “green light” to destroy?

        Like I said, just wondering……..

        • Louise Kane says:

          given the green light to destroy is unfortunately what has happened and why I think that anti wolf sentiment seems to have escalated. Agencies that allow the vilification of wolves because they either do not support their presence, look the other way or cater to special interests and these crazy bastards are legitimized. The USFWS is a lousy caregiver of a national public trust resource. To allow this to happen after years of recovery and then to promote a national delisting is beyond unconscionable.

        • Immer Treue says:


          Poverty is a very real thing, and I would hazard two guesses.

          One is most of these high poverty regions voted republican/are very supportive of the Tea Party. (If I am wrong on this, I’ll apologize now)

          Two, they are very reliant on venison, which means they have to compete with wolves.

          Two supports one, its all the liberal governments fault. The Right certainly knows how to divide and conquer, all the while driving the faces of those not doing well deeper and deeper into the mud.

  25. Ida Lupine says:

    Here’s an article from a few days ago about the WI hunt going quicker than expected:

    The annual deer season also is usually a time an increased number of hunters without permits illegally kill wolves. The DNR does not count illegally killed wolves toward the permit quota, but biologists do take poaching and other causes of wolf mortality into account when setting the quotas, MacFarland said.

    Wolf Hunt May End Before Hunters Can Use Dogs

    It’s hard to believe that this kind of thing is considered fun and sport.

  26. Pete Braun says:

    As a Michigan resident, I find what the NRC did offensive. These people ought to be thrown off the Mackinac Bridge with 50lb. dumbbells tied to their ankles. What a fitting punishment that would be.

  27. Michael O'Kelly says:

    Well this will most likely be the last wolf hunt but I have faith in the Yoopers ability to manage the wolf population with the tried and true method of “shoot, shovel and shut up”. In ten years or so the wolves will have established themselves in the lower and will be well on their way to destroying the DNR’s crown Jewell our Elk heard. What a joke what’s next we gonna vote on bass bag limits on Lake St. Clair?

    • jon says:

      You’re supporting illegal activity. You are sick.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Better that than legal killing and Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up together. Many many more wolves are killed with this two-pronged approach, whereas the Shoot-n-Shovelers are mostly all bluster. Many less would be hunted this way, and there’s always the risk to the Shoot-n-Shoveler of getting caught, arrested, and hunting privileges and weapons taken away, even if it is only for a very short time. Much more preferable to a legal hunt, and kinda evens the odds.


November 2013


‎"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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