Casperson issues apology for errors in report

LANSING – The followng is a transcript of Sen Tom Casperson’s statement to the Michigan Senate on errors contained in his wolf resolution:

“Recently it came to my attention that I introduced a Resolution that contained an error.

On April 14, 2012, approximately 3 weeks after the same resolution was introduced in the House, I introduced SR 39, which was adopted by the Senate on May 31st.

That resolution contained a mistake, which became the focal point of an M LIve series on the wolf hunt this week.

Specifically, the Resolution cited an incident in Ironwood which stated that “wolves appeared multiple times in the backyard of a day care center shortly after the children were allowed outside to play. Federal agents disposed of three wolves in that backyard because of the potential danger to the children.”

As even the M Live article concedes, it is indeed true that there is a day care center in Ironwood that had wolves on its property.

It is also true that wolves appeared there multiple times.

In fact, the family dog even faced down one of the wolves in the backyard while five children were inside the home.

And, in fact, that wolf, apparently completely socialized to humans, was not at all troubled by the woman who owned the daycare “screaming” at the site of this.

However, the children were not in the backyard as the Resolution implied. Nor were the wolves killed in the backyard of the daycare. Rather, three wolves were indeed eventually killed in the vicinity.

So, the resolution was inaccurate in two ways. And for that I sincerely apologize.

Many have suggested to me that these two errors are so secondary to not just the Resolution but all that has gone on that justifies using sound science to manage the wolf that there is no reason to apologize.

Many others have suggested I take a page out of the book that is used nationally, especially lately over the Affordable Health Care Act, and simply parse my statement and redefine what backyard means.

However, I will do neither. I was mistaken. I am accountable. And, I am sorry.

Words matter. Accuracy matters. Especially here, with a topic that is so emotional to so many – and so important to so many, especially those whose way of life is being changed in my District.

And, the decision here, with whether or not we use sound science to manage the wolf, as with all decisions this body should make, should not be based on emotion, innuendo, or agendas. But rather on facts.

And make no mistake that these two mistakes in no way change the facts behind the need for the scientific management of the wolf, the rest of the Resolution and SB 288. Heck, even the article conceded that there have been over 300 verified wolf attacks – all in the UP.

That is why I question the title of the series, which was titled in part “Half Truths and Falsehoods . . . ” and the implication in the article that the Resolution, in being sent on to Congress, “open[ed] the door for a hunt.”

Frankly, that door was opened because the wolf population in Michigan had far exceeded its recovery goal by the time wolves were removed from the endangered species list in 2012.

The NRC didn’t approve a hunt because of this Resolution but because the conditions set forth in the Wolf Management Plan occurred, and because the State’s wildlife professional recommended a very limited public hunt as one tool to manage wolves.

If we want to focus on half-truths, I would suggest examine that:

Michigan itself does not have 700 wolves, which would equate to a mere eight wolves per county, as those that oppose the hunt are fond of saying in an attempt to minimize the nature of the problem. Rather the Upper Peninsula alone has each and every one of those wolves;

Some three years before I sponsored the Resolution, a variety of interest groups, including anti-hunting organizations, the Michigan Human Society, the Sierra Club, and even Nancy Warren, who the MLive article highlighted, came together and agreed on with “scientific management,” consistent with Proposal A. They agreed on a number of 200 as the wolf recovery goal in the Upper Peninsula. Because, at 200, the group agreed that the wolf was not endangered anymore. Of course, those that oppose the Resolution and SB 288 turn a blind eye to the fact that we are now nearly 3.5 times that wolf recovery goal;

One farm, owned by John Koski, is not the entirety of the problem or the basis for the hunt. Nor is the problem limited to livestock. 8 wolves were indeed killed in and around the City of Ironwood. And, depredation has spanned the UP, from family pets in Houghton County, including a 150 pound Newfoundland, to Schoolcraft County, to hunting beagles in Chippewa County; and

Contrary to those that oppose the hunt, wolves can and will attack humans. And, the whole truth is that unless we actively manage wolves through sound science with all the tools available to us, including a limited hunt, we will eventually have an incident like that which occurred in Solway, Minnesota in August of this year, when a wolf attached a teen while he was camping.

Years ago, when I worked for my family’s trucking company, we didn’t scrap a log truck just because it had a flat tire; we fixed the tire and kept trucking. For the same reason, I will not disown the whole resolution about wolves on the basis of an error in the text. I will correct the error and continue promoting the safety of our communities.”