DNR: Federal ruling limits options for wolf management

Dec 23, 2014

State wildlife officials say they’re disappointed in a court decision that restores federal endangered species protections to the gray wolf in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

Credit Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters

A federal judge ruled Friday that the wolf was improperly removed from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list. State wildlife officials say the decision not only blocks future wolf hunt seasons in Michigan, it denies farmers and dog owners the ability to kill wolves that threaten pets and livestock.

“This goes far beyond whether or not we can hunt wolves in Michigan. This talks about the overall management of wolves, so this is much more than a hunting issue,” said Debbie Munson Badini is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Wolves are not threatened. They’re not endangered. They’re fully recovered. To us, this is just way that people are using --- misusing the Endangered Species Act to stop the use of wildlife management tools.”

Now, a wolf can be killed only if it poses an imminent threat to a human life.

The Humane Society says it would not have sued if Michigan and other states hadn’t moved so quickly to allow wolf hunting once the species was removed from the endangered list.

“It’s just the best Christmas present imaginable to know that wolves in the Great Lakes region now will be safe from trophy hunting for the foreseeable future,” said Jill Fritz, who leads the Humane Society’s Michigan chapter, and ran the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected ballot campaigns.

Fritz says farmers and wildlife officials still have the same non-lethal wolf control options they had before the species was removed from the endangered list.

In November, voters rejected two state laws that allowed wolf hunting, but also approved a separate initiative that restored the season. The court decision rendered all those moot. But the case could be appealed.

DNR officials say the state won’t do anything further regarding wolf seasons unless there’s an appeal that reverses the court decision.