Wolf data will surely stoke the fire of debate

Michigan’s inaugaral wolf-season began nearly six months ago and it will be nearly six months from now that voters will go to the polls on the issue. The push is on by some in the state to put the matter before voters. Pushing back just as hard is an effort to keep things just the way they are. Regardless of which side you’re on, it is an emotional subject and among those that have generated the most letters to the editor at The Daily Mining Gazette in recent months.

Just as the issue is gaining steam comes information regarding last year’s hunt. According to the an article on the website MLive.com, information presented to the Michigan Wolf Management Advisory Council last month has detailed information regarding the wolves killed.

The youngest pup taken, a female, was a little more than seven months old. The two oldest, a male and female from opposite ends of the U.P. were judged to be more than seven and a half years old. According to the article life expectancy of wolves in the wild is about five years.

The data indicates the average age of the wolves killed was 2.6 years, with an equal number of males and females, 11 each, taken.

The total of 22 was about half of the 43 wolves the DNR had hoped would be taken in three areas of the U.P. where attacks on livestock and dogs as well as human conflicts were reported.

And interesting piece of information released shows the average distance a wolf was taken compared to sights of documented conflicts was 5 miles.

We’re not sure where all this data will lead, but we’re quite sure it will add fuel to both the pro-wolf and anti-wolf fires. Consider, so far both sides combined have raised 1.9 million dollars. That works out to about $2,300 for each wolf in Michigan according to the figures.

While concerns about wolves are growing, the figures indicate documented wolf attacks are shrinking. In 2013, the 13 attacks prior the hunt, were the lowest since 2002 and well down from the 64 reported in 2012.

We’re not prepared to draw any conclusions from the new data, but we are certain both sides will make the most of the data and we’ll continue to watch the situation closely as the year rolls on.