Michigan Energy & Environment

IPR brings you the stories and sounds of nature Up North. Hear about our changing natural world, and the challenges northern Michigan faces with a growing economy and a fragile ecosystem.

Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters/Flickr

A new ballot campaign seeks to overturn a state law that opens the door to a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. The campaign Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will appear before a state elections board Thursday to get its petition approved for circulation.

State wildlife officials in January will start considering whether to establish a wolf hunt in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill last week that recognizes the gray wolf as a game species in the state.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is set to explore the possibility of a hunt at their next meeting. But a final decision is likely to take several months.

“There will be a lot of opportunity for public comment, for consultation with tribal governments, and for all kinds of interaction before any decisions are made,” says DNR spokesperson Ed Golder.

Legislation that could allow a limited wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula cleared the state House during this last week of the lame duck session. The Legislature has adjourned for the year.

It’s now up to Governor Rick Snyder to sign the bill into law.

“This is an animal that just came off the endangered species list,” says state Representative Jeff Irwin. The Democrat from Ann Arbor voted against the change. “The (wolf) populations are not even healthy or even abundant, and I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about shooting wolves in northern Michigan.”

A group from Manistee County dedicated to preserving old trees is planting redwoods and sequoias in Oregon this week. The trees cloned by the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Copemish include clones of a coastal redwood with a trunk 35 feet in diameter.

The group's founder David Milarch says this project is meant to be a solution to global climate change. That's because sequoias and redwoods take so much carbon out of the atmosphere. Milarch says these trees grow fast and ancient redwoods can reach a total weight of 1,000 tons.

State Needs to Justify Wolf Hunt

Dec 4, 2012
Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters

The Michigan legislature is moving closer to allow a hunting season for gray wolves. There are around 700 wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

If the legislature makes the wolf a game species, then wildlife officials will still have to justify that a hunt is necessary. And that it won’t harm wolf recovery.

Must Meet State Goal
Under state law, there can’t be a recreational wolf hunt for any old reason. Wildlife officials would have to show that a hunt is warranted. And that it would meet the goal of reducing wolf-human conflicts.

UPDATE 11/29/2012: The state Senate has passed a bill that declares the gray wolf a game species in Michigan. Under the legislation, state wildlife officials could establish a wolf hunting season. The measure now goes to the state House.

The state Senate is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on legislation that would declare the gray wolf a game species in Michigan. That would allow state wildlife officials to create a wolf hunting season.

It’s estimated there are several hundred wolves in the Upper Peninsula. In some cases, wolves have been found where people live.

Bear Bacon Anyone?

Nov 9, 2012

Chris Eberhart thinks eating wild game will save the sport of hunting. He hunts all over the world but returns to Clare to hunt whitetail deer every fall. He says traditions that rural communities have long maintained are suddenly becoming exciting again. Eberhart cooks everything from venison to bear bacon to crow pie. He writes books and blogs about wild food.

Northern Lawmakers Oppose United Nations Plan

Oct 24, 2012

Environmentalists in Michigan have been on the defensive since the last election. Republicans have rolled back shoreline protections they say were onerous and they limited the ability of the state to conserve land. New bills in the works would open up more places to motorized vehicles.

Now some of the lawmakers leading the charge on these issues say they're worried about something more ominous. They want to strike back against what they see as a global conspiracy.

GOP lawmakers warn of a new world order

The same company responsible for the worst inland oil spill ever wants to increase the amount of oil going through its pipeline under the Straits of Mackinaw.

Enbridge Energy says it has increased safety inspections since the disaster at the Kalamazoo River a couple of years ago. And the company says the pipeline that runs underwater west of the Mackinaw Bridge is perfectly safe.

But a Great Lakes environmental group isn’t convinced and is trying to stop the plan.

Meaning Of Test Results For Asian Carp Disputed

Sep 7, 2012

Last week officials in Ohio and Michigan announced they found more evidence of Asian carp in Lake Erie. They didn’t find a carp but numerous water samples tested positive for what’s known as environmental DNA. That suggests Asian carp were in Sandusky Bay this summer. If the exotic fish get into the Great Lakes its expected they’ll further upset the current ecosystem.

Tribes Oppose Wolf Hunt

Sep 6, 2012

An animal that’s a symbol of the wild, and once nearly exterminated, has repopulated the upper Great Lakes region. In fact, the gray wolf exceeded recovery goals, times ten, over the last decade.

And now wolves are doing so well, states that manage them are opening hunting seasons on them. Some say there are just too many to coexist with people.

But a few Indian tribes argue that their treaty rights call for wolves to fill every niche in the landscape.

Michigan's Land Preservation System Questioned

Sep 4, 2012

For decades communities in Michigan have been preserving land with help from the Natural Resources Trust Fund. The Mackinac Headlands, Arcadia Dunes and Clay Cliffs near Leland were all purchased with the help of these grants. But now some state senators want to change the way the system works. And the groups most expert at using the trust fund, say the changes are radical.

Michigan lawmakers will consider opening a hunting season for gray wolves. A state representative from the Upper Peninsula introduced a bill last week.

Federal wildlife officials just removed the animals from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes area earlier this year, but the population has been way above the target set for recovery for most of the last decade.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs have been pushing to classify wolves as game animals, saying money from hunting licenses would help to better manage wolves.

Michigan lawmakers will consider opening a hunting season for gray wolves. A state representative from the Upper Peninsula introduced a bill last week.

Federal wildlife officials just removed the animals from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes area earlier this year, but the population has been way above the target set for recovery for most of the last decade.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs have been pushing to classify wolves as game animals, saying money from hunting licenses would help to better manage wolves.

Nearly a hundred years ago a small animal that most people have never heard of was wiped out of the northern forest.

In the mid-1980’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced the pine marten in two locations in the Lower Peninsula. They thought the population would take off and spread but it hasn’t.

And now researchers are trying to find out why.

A new report shows wolves on Isle Royale have taken a sudden turn towards extinction.

For half-a-century, scientists have studied the predator-prey behavior of wolves and moose on the island. It's the longest running wildlife study in the world. 

The National Park Service manages Isle Royale as a wilderness, with a hand-off policy of not intervening. But some researchers say if the wolves die out, the moose will radically change the island's ecology. 

Isle Royale Wolves Face Extinction

Mar 16, 2012

A new report shows wolves on Isle Royale have taken a sudden turn towards extinction. With nine animals counted this winter, the population is the lowest it's ever been in the last half-century. Researchers aren't sure what's caused this latest decline.

Twenty years ago, a disease called Canine Parvovirus reduced the Island's wolf population to twelve. Since then, their numbers have gotten as high as thirty.

Sturgeon Heyday

Mar 9, 2012

Lake sturgeon is not a fish you hear much about these days but it was once part of the everyday vernacular around the Great Lakes. The story of its demise is an unusual one. For Americans moving into the region in the 1800s the fish was at first considered worthless but suddenly became a prized food. Laura Bien writes about the history of the sturgeon in her most recent article for The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Starting today, gray wolves are no longer under federal protection in the Upper Great Lakes region. That means states have a free hand to go after wolves that cause problems for people.

Wildlife officials say delisting is long overdue, but court battles had blocked their efforts.

Wolf numbers in the Upper Great Lakes have rebounded dramatically over the last decade. It's a success story of recovery under the Endangered Species Act.

A case of moose poaching in the Upper Peninsula has turned out to be a hoax.

The head of a freshly killed moose was left on a rock beside a road near Ishpeming last October. Next to the moose head was a sign that said "wolfs won't get this one".

State conservation officers investigated a possible illegal killing of the moose, but they found a hunter had legally taken it in Canada. He kept the antlers and meat and left the carcass, including the head, with a butcher in Negaunee.

Chesapeake Litigation

Jan 6, 2012

Last month attorneys suing one of the nation's largest energy companies had their first victory in a long line of cases related to hydrofracking in Michigan. Two years ago land owners across the region were receiving record sums of money in exchange for the right to drill for oil and gas in a deep shale formation that had been untouched until then. But more than 100 landowners now say they were cheated when Chesapeake Energy walked away from their agreements.

Great Lakes Wolves Not Endangered

Dec 21, 2011

Gray wolves will no longer be protected as an endangered species in the upper Great Lakes. The federal government announced today wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will be removed from the list in January. That means state agencies will be allowed to kill wolves that are causing problems and could also establish a hunting season for the animals. State wildlife officials say there is growing pressure to establish a hunt for wolves.

Mercury Problem Improves In Region

Oct 11, 2011

A new study of mercury in the Great Lakes region says the problem has significantly improved in recent decades. But in a few places it appears to be getting worse. That could include northern Michigan.

Mercury has been a problem in the Great Lakes regions for much of the past century.  Coal-fired power plants and incinerators have been the main sources. Mercury accumulates in fish that are eaten by people and birds. It can impair brain development in children.

No other wildlife species, it seems, causes such extremes of emotion as the wolf. Some people want to protect it at any cost. Others want to shoot the animal on sight.

Protected for Now
At the moment wolves are listed as an endangered species. But they may soon be removed from federal protection. The it will be up to the state to decide how to come to terms with a top predator.

Officials Take Comment On Wolf Delisting In The U.P.

Jun 17, 2011

Residents from across the Upper Peninsula gathered in Marquette last night to learn more about a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list.  The agency says the animal has not only recovered, it is thriving in the Western Great Lakes Region.  Officials say it's time to let states determine how they'll manage the wolf themselves.

Delisting opponents say recovery efforts are not complete.  They say wolves keep the whitetail population healthy, as they go after the weakest and sickest deer. 

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