Saturday, November 16, 2013

Over a thousand join Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt

November 15, 2013 by AHN  

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter
Marquette, MI, United States (4E Sports) – Around 1,200 hunters are expected to participate when Michigan’s historic first-ever wolf hunt begins Friday, according to the State Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR said the hunt last until December 31 or until the maximum target number of 43 wolves is reached. The hunt will happen in three designated zones of the Upper Peninsula. “I’m an avid hunter, so this is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often,” store owner Dick Pershinske said. “It may be the last hunt, too, if the environmentalists get their way.”

State Department of Natural Resources officials clarified that the hunt is designed to reduce wolf depredation, saying wolves attack livestock and pets and having uncomfortably close encounters with humans in some communities.

No wolf attacks on humans have been reported. But so far this year, 30 livestock or pets have been attacked or killed by wolves in the Upper Peninsula, including 17 dogs and 11 cattle, DNR officials said.

The hunt was met with several criticisms and protests with the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe planning a candlelight vigil for the animal so iconic in their tribal heritage. “The gray wolf is significant to our culture,” said tribal spokesman Frank Cloutier. “It’s a part of our creation story, very significant to who we are and what we believe.”

Earlier, two petition drives, a pending ballot referendum and statewide ad campaign were launched but failed to stop the controversial hunt.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, an offshoot of the Humane Society of the U.S., gathered 255,000 signatures statewide to place the wolf hunt decision before Michigan voters in a referendum. However, a state law passed in the spring effectively circumvented the petition drive and allowed the hunt to continue with the approval of the state Natural Resources Commission.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is now in a second petition drive to put a new referendum before voters.