Wolves should not be hunted

Hannah Fermanich

A new bill in Michigan could change the fate of gray wolves. Senate Bill 1350 would designate gray wolves as a game species and authorize an open hunting season on these animals.

Gray wolves were recently removed from the endangered species list. They were taken off this list on Jan. 27, 2012. If this bill passes, the species could be on the fast track to becoming endangered again.

One of the arguments for passing this bill is that the deer population has dropped since the wolf population has returned to a normal level. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Wolves are nature’s predators, and it is their job to manage the deer population. But with a lower deer population, there is less game available for hunters come deer season.

Instead of figuring out how much to lower the amount of deer harvested during each deer hunting season to accommodate this natural change, efforts are spent trying to fix the wolf problem.

Unfortunately, changes to deer hunting standards won’t happen. Deer hunting has changed from a necessity for food to trophy hunting.

So long as deer hunting is seen as a recreational sport, the modifications required to hunting regulations to accommodate the change in population will not happen.

Another argument for authorizing an open hunting season on wolves is to reduce the depredation they cause to farms.

The claim is that wolves have taken advantage of fenced-in animals as a food source.

There are at least two different measures in place to protect farmers and their livestock.

The first is the state’s Guidelines for Lethal Control of Wolves by Livestock and Dog Owners in Michigan. These regulations permit farmers and dog owners to kill wolves if non-lethal measures have not worked to protect their property. What it comes down to is ownership. It is a farmer’s job to protect his livestock. If farmers lose some of their livestock to wolves, it should be their responsibility to ensure that the opportunity for a wolf to attack is not made again.

As human beings, we have the intelligence to control our surroundings and accommodate for possible instances of predator attacks.

Wolves lack that higher thinking. They see an opportunity for food and act on instincts and do what they are naturally inclined to do.

It is our job as humans to acknowledge the potential dangers and work to overcome them.

The second measure put in place to protect farmers is the compensation for livestock lost to wolf depredation.

If a farmer loses livestock due to a wolf attack, the farmer can be reimbursed for his or her losses. These two measures were put in effect specifically to protect the farmers and the wolf population.

One of the more overlooked resources available to Michigan residents is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Part of their job is to manage the wolves and allow for easier cohabitation between humans and wolves.

In cases where there are reports of wolf activity too close to a human population, it is the DNR’s job to come in and work to resolve the problem.

Saying that the wolf population has grown too radically after less than a year of removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list is jumping the gun.

There are measures put in place to protect both the residents of Michigan and the wolf population. Instead of looking immediately to wolf hunting as a source of management, more time should be spent to assess the situation.

By acting too hastily, we only run the risk of endangering the species all over again.

As human beings, our greatest weapon is our minds. Every problem we encounter cannot be gunned down.