Wolf hunting has become a hot topic in recent years. Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are all going through this controversy together and at different rates. Legislation began after wolves nearly disappeared from the region in the 1970s, which is when the Endangered Species Act was introduced to protect and rehabilitate the populations. However, wolf hunting serves no real purpose other than to play on old fears that wolves are a thorn in societies side, and current legislations’ goal is to put another species on the huntable game list (Detroit Free Press 2017).
In 2011, Minnesota and Wisconsin allowed wolves to be hunted, and in 2012, the states had their first wolf hunt before federal courts ruled in 2014 that all hunting must stop. This ruling followed six weeks after Michigan lawmakers attempted to host its own wolf hunt before voters overwhelmingly disapproved of the proposal. Now, in 2018, the discussion continues, with the battle being between voters and the court system and law makers (Humane Society 2014).
Michigan attempted to launch its first ever wolf hunt in 2014 designating areas in the U.P. for wolf culling. However Michigan residents took to the polls and derailed the act from ever taking place. Yet in 2016, new action was taken and a bill was passed allowing a commission to designate wolves as huntable game if the federal government were to remove them from the endangered list. The U.S. Humane Society shows its overwhelming support for keeping the wolves safe, including having 41 letters sent by “prominent scientists” sent in opposition of the bill. This bill was sent to the Michigan house of representatives (Detroit News 2016).
The U.S. Humane Society goes on to explain how routine killing of wolves actually makes the problem worse. If one farm were to kill wolves, then the problem would shift to neighbors, where the wolves would hunt looking for an “easy meal.” A seven-year study in Idaho showed that using non-lethal deterrents put the sheep loss at the lowest in the state. At another farm, where the owner routinely killed wolves, losses of livestock were 3.5 times higher. On top of this, studies post 2014 conclude that while wolf populations are not hunted, livestock losses are even lower as adults train their pups to hunt “prefered, wild prey.” In 2017, livestock deaths totaled five confirmed kills due to wolves out of 50,000 total cattle, countering accusations of widespread loss. There are around 5,500 wolves in the US, with about 3,800 being spread across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (US Humane Society 2018).
In May 2017, following wolves being removed from the Wyoming endangered species list in March, the U.S. court of appeals for D.C. was charged with deciding whether wolves should be removed from the national endangered list. In August 2017, the court upheld that the population needs to reach at least 4,000 in the northern states before the species can be removed, therefore shutting down the bill and upholding conservation methods.
In its ruling, the court stated that “more science and analysis to the administrative review of the status of wolves.” The wolf hunt and delisting of endangered species flies in the face of basic ecology.Removing a species disrupts the ecosystem, especially a large predator such as the wolf. The only reason for hunting is for sport, as wolves have no meat. The senseless killing of wolves for sport holds no real value or reason, and has severe consequences.
There is also evidence to suggest that wolves help the environment, as the court was referencing. Research has proved that wolves hunt weaker, sick deer and reduce the population to manageable numbers while keeping the deer population stronger each year. By killing ill deer, wolves prevent the spread of disease. By killing weak deer, they promote growth and more profitable deer hunting seasons and prevent overgrazing, protecting the grasses and forests.. By killing excess deer, they reduce vehicle-deer collisions (Federal Court 2017).
In September 2017, the SHARE (Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) was introduced to the House of Representatives, where it has been put on hold and has yet to be voted on. This act would take the power out of courts and federal government and put it in the state legislature where the lawmakers attempt to draft plans that fly directly against the wishes of the constituents, as clearly seen in the 2014 bill in Michigan.
All in all, wolf hunting has been a battle between lawmakers serving the interests of lobby groups such as the Safari Club International, against citizens and the court systems. As seen with the referendum in Michigan of 2014, voters overwhelmingly disapprove of the hunting of wolves. The lack of a reason to hunt wolves other than for sport, and the fact that wolves benefit the ecosystem showcase the senselessness of the SHARE act and future legislation of similar stance. Lawmakers are supposed to be the voice of the people, not to completely ignore our voice on issues that would have serious repercussions.