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Report calls reasons for Michigan wolf hunt 'half-truths and falsehoods'

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission meets about a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
A hearing held earlier this year in Lansing on a proposed wolf hunt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

John Barnes, a reporter at MLive,described the reasons given for characterizing the push for a hunt in that way.

One falsehood he found was a quote given to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources official last May.

Carmody wanted to know if the town of Ironwood, Michigan really was afraid of wolves, after State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said the town was "living in fear" of the wolves.

Carmody spoke with Adam Bump, a Bear and Furbearer Speicialist with the MDNR. Here's what Bump said:

Bump now says he misspoke.

Michigan Radio tried to reach Bump for a comment, but he was not available to us.

During an interview on today's Stateside, John Barnes said Bump was confused during the interview.

"He was thinking about a separate incident that did not even occur in Michigan. It occurred in Denver. It had to do with a book he was reading, and he just tripped over his words, he says. And did not mean to infer that wolves are showing no fear of humans. In fact, we checked, and there's no such incident that has been recorded like that in the city of Ironwood. And Adam acknowledges that he made a mistake on that," said Barnes.

One farmer, many wolf kill reports

Barnes also writes about other problems with the argument for a hunt, including the fact that one farmer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula "accounted for more cattle killed and injured than all other farmers in the years the DNR reviewed."

That discovery first came from Nancy Warren of the National Wolf Watch Coalition. She pushed the MDNR for more information on wolf depredation reports. She got the information last July, according to Michigan Radio's Rina Miller:

Warren learned that cattle farmer John Koski reported 96 head of livestock were killed by wolves over a three-year period. She says that's 80 percent of the total of 120 livestock reported killed in the region during that time period. "When you take out the Koski farm, there was very little depredation total," Warren says.

Koski received more than $30,000 from the state for these reported wolf kills, Warren said. She suspected dead carcasses left on Koski's farm likely attracted wolves to his property.

When MLive's John Barnes visited the farm along with other reporters, he reported visitors seeing dead carcasses on the farm:

There are pelvises and too many other bleached bones to count. They are the remains of wolf kills, he says. Some suspect they could also be at least partly from natural die-off. Either way, they are not supposed to be here. State law requires animal remains be buried within 24 hours.

Barnes reports that the farmer has never been cited for these violations, and one state official said of Koski that "we're kind of washing our hands of him."

Watch MLive for more reports this week.

In the meantime, 1,200 license holders will have from Nov. 15 through the end of the year to take the quota of 43 wolves in these areas:

Wolf management units in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Sixteen wolves are targeted in area A, 19 wolves in area B, and 8 wolves in area c.
Credit State of Michigan

What will happen after these wolves are killed?

It's anybody's guess.

Last December, leading wolf biologist Rolf Peterson told us that a very specific hunt targeting wolves in a small area could reduce wolf-human conflicts, but a public hunt could add to the problem. It could split wolf packs into smaller packs and then increase reproduction:

"It’s sort of if you kill one wolf, two come to the funeral. I mean that’s just a common sense way of expressing the ability of wolves to respond to any sort of increase in mortality," says Peterson.

*This post has been updated to reflect what Adam Bump told reporter John Barnes.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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