Legislator wants U.P. wolf hunt

Lake Orion, Mich. — A wolf-hunting season in the Upper Peninsula may be on the horizon, but not likely until 2013.

State Rep. Mike Huuki, a Republican from Houghton County, told Michigan Outdoor News that he has written a bill, which he plans to introduce later this year, that would pave the way for the DNR to establish a wolf-hunting season.

“It’s similar to what Wisconsin has proposed,” Huuki said. “It’s a bill that would allow the DNR to structure a hunting season for wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

“It’s something that needs to happen,” he said. “The number of wolves is growing in the U.P. and that’s an issue that needs to be taken care of, and I think we can address it with a hunting season.”

The DNR pegged Michigan’s wolf population at just shy of 700 animals during the most recent 2010 winter wolf survey.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota from the endangered species list last fall. Minnesota, with an estimated wolf population of about 3,000 animals, has approved a wolf hunting and trapping season. Wisconsin, with a population of about 800 wolves, is working through the legislative process and is expected to have the framework approved in time for a fall 2012 wolf-hunting season.

Huuki said details on if trapping would be included in the Michigan season, how many animals to kill, and dates and lengths of a season are still being discussed. He expects that licenses would be allocated through a lottery system, much like the state’s elk and bear hunts.

Because of the legislative schedule in Lansing, Huuki said he probably wouldn’t introduce the legislation until later this year. State legislators leave Lansing on June 14 and return to their respective home districts, then reconvene in Lansing in September.

“When I introduce the bill, I would like to see it go through both houses and be signed by the governor without any big time lapses,” Huuki said.

DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason told MON the department would welcome a wolf-hunting season as a management tool. He said the DNR asked the Wolf Work Group, which helped develop the state’s wolf management plan, to reconvene on June 28 in St. Ignace to discuss parameters for a possible season

“Hunting is another management tool and we’d welcome the opportunity to use it,” Mason said.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, a fall wolf hunting and trapping season has already been approved. The Minnesota DNR is proposing  a two-part season. The first season would be held during that state’s firearms deer season. The second would be designed for hunters to target wolves specifically and would run Nov. 24 through Jan. 6.

Minnesota will issue 6,000 licenses and the quota will be 400 wolves, 200 in the early season and 200 in the late season. If the early season quota is not met, the remaining quota will be added to the quota for the late hunt.

The late season includes both hunting and trapping, and  will close earlier if the 400-wolf quota is reached. The late season will be open statewide.

About 25 percent of the late-season licenses are for trappers. 

Resident wolf hunting licenses are $30; nonresident licenses are $250.

Wisconsin

In the Badger State, a bill that was introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature in January would allow for a 41⁄2-month wolf hunting and trapping season running Oct. 15 through the end of February.

A resident license would cost $99.25, and a nonresident license would cost $499.25.

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