Breakfast with wolf hunters

Wolves in snow.  (None of these photos are mine, darn it.)

Wolves in snow. (None of these photos are mine, darn it.)

Yesterday morning we ate breakfast with a group of wolf hunters.

I shan’t tell you who they are.

Michigan sports a new law:  it’s game now to hunt wolves in the Upper Peninsula.  Cost?  $100 for residents.  $500 for non-residents. Twelve hundred hunters have been licensed this season.

How many wolves shall be culled?

The Department of Natural Resources says 43 in three areas of our fair peninsula.

Wolf play

Wolf play

It’s the biggest controversy, as you might imagine.

Many of the local folks insist the wolves should be hunted and controlled.

Others decry this practice as barbaric.

Letters to the Editor abound in local newspapers.

Writers fuss, fight, fume!

One of my friends spotted a beautiful black wolf in her property.  She almost fell to her knees in delight.  She couldn’t breathe this sighting to anyone–except me.  She didn’t want the wolf to be killed.  She snarls at the thought of wolf hunters.

Another friend snarls at the thought of wolves.  She’s seen photos of beagles, local pets, gnawed to pieces by wolves.  She supports the hunt with a passion.

Each side continues to be vilified in the press, local bars and blogs.  Each side calls each other extremists:  one group is touted as evil killers; the other as dreamy idealists.

Here is an article written last year while Michigan debated whether to conduct the hunt.

Wolf pack

Wolf pack

I enjoyed the best breakfast with wolf hunters this morning.  Oh, the lovely scrambled eggs and hash browns and whole wheat toast and delightful conversation!

The woods lie thick with deer and wolf hunters for two weeks in November, hiding in shacks and behind trees.  While deer hunters roam the entire peninsula, wolf hunters must hunt in specified zones created because of larger numbers of identified wolf packs. Gun shots sound randomly through the day at this time of year.  This morning’s snow aids the hunters in tracking their prey.

So far, six wolves have been shot.  When the number reaches 43, the wolf hunt ends for this year.

Would I hunt a wolf?  No.

Do I judge the hunters?  No.

As so often happens, I stand between opinions, deeply loving wolves and yet recognizing that sometimes a herd must be controlled.

Have you an opinion about this controversial subject?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2013 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Breakfast with wolf hunters

  1. lisaspiral says:

    The only animal population on the planet that isn’t inherently self controlled by available resources is humans. Not sure I’ll ever understand why we think we can do a better job at it than nature. I do understand that our incursion into everyone else’s eco-system is part of the balance/imbalance issue. Complicated and no easy answers.

  2. I guess it must get boring after a while when all you have to shoot are deer!

  3. Fountainpen says:

    I don’t live with wolves but
    I would not kill them if I did

  4. Like you, I stand in the middle somewhat, perhaps siding a bit more with the wolves. They are such magnificent creatures.

    So, it’s been a crazy, busy weekend around here (post about it later this week), but you must be home from Florida. Sounds like you had such a wonderful trip! Again, happy birthday to your mom.

    Hope your week gets off to a good start, my friend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  5. Dena says:

    I don’t like hunting, period. I did, however, read a few years ago about the imbalance of the wolf population in a region of the UP (maybe Presque Isle?) during which the wolves outnumbered their prey and starved off in droves. The wolf reintroduction in many places needs to be followed through, not just left for nature to determine. You can’t let nature determine something man has introduced. It will never work. I’m on the fence on this issue.

  6. sybil says:

    I’m not sure how I feel. I love wolves … but then I love cows and pigs and chickens. How we can de-cry hunting and then support factory farms ?

    I am currently a vegetarian, but would rather eat hunted meat than “factory farmed” meat.

    My personal motto is: “We choose our own hypocrisy”.

  7. They are so beautiful. I would play Little Red Riding Hood in this tale.

  8. Robin says:

    I’m in the middle on this one, too. I love wolves, but understand the need for control. Here in Maryland they have a deer problem because of the lack of predators (other than humans). Maybe they should send a few of your extra wolves to Maryland to help out.

    It’s hunting season here, too, and shots ring out all over the land.

  9. Susan Derozier says:

    This brings to mind my all time favorite movie “Never Cry Wolf” — it pretty well tells my side of this tale.

  10. Barb says:

    I tend to believe that they are beautiful, spirited creatures and I could never kill one. However, I do see where they can overpopulate areas, and with the lack of a natural enemy, may need to be controlled somewhat,Both for the sake of the wolves, and other animals (pets included) upon which they feed.

  11. debyemm says:

    I match your perspective, Kathy, on both the deer and wolves (which we don’t have here, we have coyotes, which are also hunted on occasion). Would I kill a wolf ? NEVER. Would I kill a deer ? NEVER. Do I realize that predators (including hunters in that category) are part of the natural order of the way things are. DEFINITELY. Just yesterday, I spoke with a Timber Stand Improvement contractor on the telephone regarding that business. He apologized for not having returned the call sooner. He had been 2 days in deer camp without a cell phone. I asked if they had success. Yes, his son got an 8-pt Buck, his father got a Doe and another member of the party had gotten a “button” Buck. He had not killed any deer during the opening weekend. He had seen Does, he said, but he won’t simply kill a Doe just to kill something because they don’t need it for meat. I appreciated his perspective on that.

    Deer season is difficult for my family. If one of us steps outside, we hear shots in the valley somewhere. It isn’t safe for us to live out our routine daily lives. I have to curtail the precious solitary time that my sanity depends on for 11 days, as I can’t hike safely through the forest. My husband has to forego his daily runs and frequent farm work in the forest, of which there is much to do to clean up logging and timber stand development areas to our standards, which are to have better accessibility to remote areas, to prevent soil erosion, to create brush piles for wildlife’s usage and to make the debris less disagreeable to see.

    Our lives change radically during deer season. I doubt the hunters around us, realize to what extent, nor would they really care. However, my husband has done vehicle damage hitting deer on at least 3 occasions in our 25 yrs of marriage, and once, with our children in the car with him, a gang of teenage deer playing “chicken” near dusk resulted in BOTH front fenders damaged by two separate deer in the group and about $6,000 in repairs and the loss of the use of our vehicle for a couple of months. Though deer were killed at least none of the humans involved in the altercation were even injured. Thank goodness for Volvo’s safety in impacts. So, we are grateful for the predators that are part of nature’s plan. We simply don’t belong to that category ourselves. Live and let live; or let die, by acceptance. All part of the whole.

  12. Stacy says:

    Yes, I have an opinion on this subject – and you’ve already voiced it. I would not want them to be killed, but I must acknowledge that even they – are perfect a being as they are – must also be subject to the laws of nature. Could I kill a wolf? No – they are so rare here now (red wolves used to roam the woods and bayous). That, and a wolf is my spirit animal. (Is that weird?) ❤

  13. Carol says:

    My feelings are mixed. I recognize the damages wolves can do, any pack that grows too large can do, but . . . They are dogs, of a sort . . .


  14. Susan D says:

    I just know that I couldn’t kill one .. or a deer … or a bunny .. or any of those creatures or feathered friends. But, I also do not judge those who can, and do … Thank you for this today, K. Sue.

  15. I graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology and studied and meet David Mech who did the first Moose/Wolf studies on Isle Royale. At that time, Dr. Mech was lecturing on wolf management for Minnesota. Notice I said management and it allowed for wolf hunting in zones spreading out from the national parks and forest of north eastern Minnesota. While I would never hunt a wolf, management is needed for two reasons: 1.) to protect the livelihood of farmers herds and 2.) to allow for the survival of the wolf in the lower 48 states were populations are healthy. Not knowing the specifics, I hope Michigan state biologists are going by population census and not political pressure to allow for the hunting of wolves.

    Now, in states like Idaho and Wyoming, wolf populations are barely able to sustain themselves after a few re-introductions and some transients coming down from Canada. Yet, those governments somehow got the US Wildlife Service to de-list the wolf from the endangered list in their states. That, to me, is unacceptable. People continue to be ignorant of the facts when it comes to wolves and other large predators. They are a major part in their ecosystems which help to keep other species from becoming a nuance. With hunting declining in popularity all over the US, we need wolves more than ever to maintain healthy deer, elk, moose and other herbivores in check.

    I am afraid, this debate will wage as long as Man fears competition with them.

  16. john says:

    Do they hang and gut a wolf like they do deer and bears? Does Barry
    have any pictures for the paper? I know of many female deer and bear hunters, seen a few turkey hunters, have you come across any female wolf hunters? Personally I only shoot at animals that can shoot back at me, but I don’t begrudge those who wish to hunt for their supper and safety.

  17. me2013 says:

    It’s a matter of balance I suppose. We have just had a badger cull here in the UK, while I hate the thought of it I can understand the reason behind the action.

  18. Gillian says:

    We have coyote culls here in Ottawa and it sickens me because people then get the idea that these are pests that must be destroyed rather than another wild creature we share this earth with. People then think it’s okay to chase them on snowmobiles to the point of exhaustion and/or death and kill them in other horrifying, inhumane ways. Studies have shown that when coyotes are removed from a territory, another will move in, and females may give birth to a higher number of pups during breeding season because there is now more food to go around.

    Animals are simply trying to survive in an increasingly human-altered world. They aren’t malicious or deliberately cruel like humans. While I understand those who hunt for food, especially in today’s world of GMO products and food pumped full of growth hormones and carcinogenic chemicals, I hate the trophy hunters who only kill to get a trophy or bragging rights.

    Who are we to say which species can live, and which must die?

  19. I’ve been listening to this debate on the news, with interest. We don’t have wolves here on Beaver Island, so it’s easy for me to sympathize with them. We kind of hold the same debate about coyotes. I sympathize with the coyotes, too, until I hear their howls and yips too close, and my little dog gets fright in her eyes and refuses to leave the porch…I see both sides; my heart says one thing, my mind another.

  20. I’m in the middle but when nature is out of balance and pets and livestock are killed then man needs to intercede. I like and loathe coyotes for they are present in my general area. I know that stupid people continue to allow thier pets free reign and then wonder what happened to their pet. Predators and pets do not mix and it up to humans to protect them from the jaws, beaks, and talons. Large owls, hawks, and various carnivors will catch and eat your pet or livestock. Here in Texas ranchers and farmers put donkeys and or large guard dogs to protect the flocks. When a species has been absent from an area for many years and then reintroduced there is always going to be a huge problem. There is not enough wildlife to support wolves and coyotes in most areas since man has decimated the woods, meadows, rivers, streams, etc. That is the sad aspect of an imbalance of nature.

    My husband was an avid hunter and fisherman. My son uses a bow to hunt deer and wild hogs. I wish that he were not a hunter but he grew up learning to respect guns by the time he was a toddler. He never kills anything unless he intends to either give it to a friend that likes to eat wild game or he has it processed into deer steaks or sausage.

  21. Kathy – I’m at Starbuck’s this morning because we’ve been out of power since the storm on Sunday. Commonwealth Edison predicts that it should be restored in our neighborhood about 3pm this afternoon. That’s why I’m tardy 🙂

    If I were on a teeter-totter with this subject (and it’s a tough balancing act), I’d be closer to the wolves side.

  22. As has been said already, there are places where the wolf populations are declining and yet other places deem it necessary to kill excess wolf populations in their areas. It seems to me, the more humane thing to do, would be to trap the wolves in the overpopulated areas and transfer them where they need to be in order to control the deer/moose populations. Better to keep the balance naturally. After all, we are invading their spaces, not the other way around.

  23. msmcword says:

    I have no desire to go hunting but I am not against others doing so. I am more concerned about those who use guns to hunt people and injure or kill them.

  24. Heather says:

    Even though I was raised on a hog farm, I’ve never supported killing creatures that eat our livestock. I tend to approach these problems from a conservation biology perspective, though, and am not informed enough to decide my own opinion. But, given the info I know right where I’d fall – in support of a healthy wild population, and in favor of self-defense killings. But, stopping the hunt at 43 seems reasonable. I guess.

  25. bearyweather says:

    Minnesota had its first wolf hunt last year. Although I personally could not ever shoot any living animal I understand the need. The wolf population has grown large, they hurt the farmers and bring down the deer population (deer season is a big State money maker) and man is the wolves only natural predator. It used to be legal for farmers to trap nuisance wolves which were killing livestock … but, that law has been gone for many years and there are just too many wolves up here in the woods.
    I have seen wolves up close and personal in the woods and even just walking down the road … they have no fear (unlike me) .. they scare me. Once a rare sight it is now too common … so, I definitely understand the need to hunt them.

  26. Great post. Feel the same way about wolf hunting. But we don’t have them out here!

  27. Janet says:

    It’s sad. I wouldn’t do it either. What do they do with them? I’m sure they don’t eat them, do they?

  28. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt is generating a lot of controversy as well.

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