DNR Obtains Federal Permit to Address Wolf Depredations |
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources can take up to 20 wolves under a permit granted April 19 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The permit allows the DNR, under certain conditions, to use lethal methods to address wolf-related livestock loss for the remainder of 2005.
"An ability to deal with animals that are causing problems, such as livestock depredation, is important for the effective management and conservation of gray wolves in Michigan," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "This permit will allow us to manage wolves in an ecologically and socially responsible manner."
In January, a federal district court in Oregon withdrew a 2003 federal decision that had reclassified gray wolves from endangered to threatened status throughout much of the United States. Due to the change, management actions pertaining to the species became more restricted. The DNR lost the legal authority to use lethal control to deal with wolf-related livestock depredation.
Although the wolf populations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have exceeded recovery goals for several years, the status of wolves elsewhere in the country drove the court's decision. As a result of this ruling, the federal status of wolves in Michigan reverted to endangered.
The federal permit allows the DNR to take wolves under the following conditions:
* Depredation must have occurred on lawfully present domestic animals, including livestock as legally defined by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Lethal control may not be used when wolves kill dogs that are free-roaming on, hunting on, or training on public lands;
"We will continue to pursue and promote non-lethal techniques for preventing depredation, but we must also retain the option of using lethal control as a last resort when the alternatives are not effective," said Todd Hogrefe, DNR endangered species coordinator. "The conditions of the permit, as well as our own agency guidelines, will ensure this authority is used in a responsible manner."
During the 22 months under the previous threatened classification, 10 Michigan wolves were euthanized in response to confirmed depredation events. During that period, the Michigan wolf population size grew by approximately 25 percent. Approximately 400 wolves were counted in Michigan during the survey conducted this past winter.
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.