Wolves In Michigan: Are They Out Of Control?
Roadtreking journalist heads to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to investigate.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission has approved a wolf hunting season starting in fall of 2013 for parts of the Upper Peninsula. Wolves were once abundant in Michigan, which lead to widespread hunting of the animals. This will the first legal hunt of wolves in the state in over half a century, which has brought about a debate about the legality of hunting the animals.
There are petition drives underway to put the issue up for statewide election in November and backers hope they can stall this fall’s proposed wolf hunting season until voters decide.
But the controversy is heated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, especially near the state’s western border with Wisconsin where a state representative says people are afraid to let their kids play outside. Dogs and dozens of livestock animals have been killed by wolves in recent months throughout several far western UP counties.
Mike Wendland, Emmy winning journalist and publisher of the popular Roadtreking RV lifestyle blog, will be traveling across the U.P. from July 5-12 to get a better understanding of the wolf population and their effect on humans and domestic animals.
Wendland is no stranger to reporting about the wolves of the UP. In 2008, he did a story for the Detroit Free Press in which experts predicted that the wolf population in the region was growing too fast.
“Officially, the state says there are nearly 700 wolves up there,” he said. “Lots of UP residents will tell you that is a very conservative number. On my last visit, people in towns like L’Anse in Baraga County told me they regularly saw wolves, even on village streets. If that’s what it was like five years ago, I can only imagine what it’s like now.”
Passions in the region are running high. Many animal welfare groups are opposing the hunting season. Hunting groups favor it, claiming wolves have decimated many UP deer herds. In the town of Ironwood, near the Wisconsin border, two dogs were recently killed by wolves. At least eight wolves have been destroyed by professional hunters or farmers after attacking farm stock in the area.
Governor Snyder who signed the Wolf Hunt Bill recently said, “I didn’t sign a wolf bill recently, I was signing a bill that dealt with sound scientific management principles for game and for fish.”
John Vucetich, Associate Professor and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project, opposes the idea of hunting wolves in Michigan. He states that “Wolf hunting is not like deer hunting, where hunters and their families are sustained by consuming its meat. We lose our humanity when we kill living creatures without adequate reason. I know of no adequate reason to think we should allow wolf hunting in Michigan.”
Vucetich also questions the motivation of wolf hunters saying “Some are motivated to hunt wolves in Michigan out of ignorance. And I am afraid others are motivated by hatred or callousness for life. If we allow wolf hunting in Michigan, it will be more a reflection of our attitude toward nature than a reflection of our scientific knowledge.”
Wendland says he has mixed feelings.
“I love wolves,” he says. “I am delighted they are thriving in Michigan. They are stunningly beautiful animals. But I also understand the concern many UP residents have. I hope to see for myself just what the situation is up there.”
Wendland will be camping in state forest areas in his 22-foot Roadtrek eTrek motorhome in the areas where wolves are believed to be most concentrated and he will visit with officials and local residents on all sides of the issue. He will report his findings daily on http://roadtreking.com.
Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, and Norwegian Elkhound, Tai, travels North America in a Type B motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He is the official on-the-road reporter for the Family Motor Coach Association. a columnist with Family Motor Coaching Magazine and his Roadtreking reports appear in numerous newspapers and publications. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, video editing and all things dealing with technology. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.
For interviews, contact Mike Wendland by phone at 248-895-2786 on email at mike(at)roadtreking(dot)com.