DNR: Hunt targeted problem wolves

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – Most of the wolves killed during the recent hunt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula probably belonged to packs that have caused problems for people, which partially fulfilled a primary objective of the season even though fewer animals were shot than expected, state wildlife biologists say.

Twenty-three gray wolves died in the state’s first regulated hunt of the predator since the upper Great Lakes population was dropped from the federal endangered species list in 2012. The Department of Natural Resources had set a target of 43 wolves for the season, which ran from Nov. 15 through December.

But DNR officials told The Associated Press last week that 17 of the kills happened in places within known territories of packs with reputations for “conflicts,” a term that includes repeatedly attacking livestock or pets and exhibiting “fearless behavior” around people.

The places where wolves were shot were typically within 5 miles of a farm or other location where conflicts had occurred, said Adam Bump, a DNR fur-bearing animal specialist. It’s not a stretch to link the wolves with those places because packs frequently travel 10 to 20 miles daily, he said.

Together, the data suggest – but doesn’t guarantee – that most of the wolves taken were problem animals, Bump said. The agency had described reducing human-wolf clashes as justifying a hunt in places where other control measures, including allowing owners to shoot wolves assaulting livestock or pets, were proving inadequate.