If wolves are delisted, should Michigan hold a hunting season? This question is currently making the rounds in the Mitten State as the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (MNRC) determines whether or not that will occur if the state’s largest predator is removed from the federal endangered species list, according to The Detroit News.
With annual tallies between 600 and 700, wolves are thriving in the Upper Peninsula and Michigan officials say that “the state’s wolf population has stayed stable for the past 12 years.” However, whether the state would hold a wolf hunting season continues to be a divided topic – one that invokes those passionate for a season and those who are strongly against one.
“People don’t like wolves,” said Brian Roell, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. “Unlike any other wildlife we deal with, it’s a love-or-hate relationship for most folks.”
Supporters of a potential hunting season say it would protect deer, livestock and pets while those against one say wolves help maintain a balanced ecosystem. Others want wolf management regulated at the state level rather than federal.
In Michigan, wolves weren’t always a protected species. In fact, up until the 1960s, Michigan residents were paid bounties to kill wolves, said Roell. Once the number dropped to the point of potential wipe-out, wolves became legally protected.
Even as the MNRC considers what to do for the future, wolves currently remain protected. Even if they are eventually delisted – a decision that has been controversial and heavily debated about for the past few years – there wouldn’t be an immediate hunting season anyway.
It would take Michigan a minimum of nine months to finalize wolf hunting guidelines, according to Roell.
Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further updates.