Friday, April 5, 2013

Letter: Michigan wolves need protection, not hunting

By Danielle Favorite
on April 04, 2013  
The following is a letter to the editor that was sent to the Kalamazoo Gazette.


In response to Timothy Ryan's letter stating wolf hunting is needed to control population, ecologists consider wolves a cornerstone species, as they have positive effects on a whole array of ecosystems.
Predators play a critical role in the well-being of our global environment and we have learned about predatory patterns thanks to their restoration in Yellowstone, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

Scientific data shows since the wolf's return to these areas, there has been a dramatic shift in the ecosystem's biomass and observable changes in flora and fauna.

Wolf restoration improves trout, elk and bison populations, and keeps deer herds strong by reducing disease.

Impact of wolves on Upper Peninsula deer population is relatively small. Hunting records for Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Minnesota note as wolf population increased, there has been no negative effect on sportsmen deer harvest. Human-caused deer mortality are 64,000 annually compared to 17,000-29,000 for wolves.

Upper Michigan's wolf population is 687 and only occupy 5 percent of their historical range. Hunters exterminated the entire wolf population in the Lower Peninsula in the 1930s. By 1973, Michigan only had six wolves left. The Wolf Management Roundtable group agreed a quota hunt was not a scientifically sound method of addressing wolf management.

Pack size for wolves is determined by food supply and mating practices. The alpha male and female are the only pair that mate within the pack, producing one litter per year. If the unit is lucky, two or three offspring will survive.

Michigan wolves need protection.