Some people advocating for a wolf hunting season claim the wolf is a cause of decline in the deer population. But, it is a well known fact that in the U.P., deer survival is especially influenced by winter severity, winter food supply and cover. The winter we are currently experiencing, with its deep snows and extremely cold temperatures will likely result in a devastating blow to the deer population.
A recent study conducted in Wisconsin revealed that hunters killed more adult and yearling deer than any other cause - more than four times higher than any other source. Researchers broke down deer mortality as follows: human hunting (43 percent), starvation (9 percent), poaching (8 percent), coyote (7 percent), wolf (6 percent), and roadkill (6 percent). An ongoing study being conducted in the U.P. shows similar results.
As a deer hunter myself, I believe that wolves should be viewed not as a menace, but as an economic and ecological boon to the state. They help maintain a healthy deer population by taking a small number of weak and sick animals. Wolves also act as a firewall against the spread of dangerous diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and Bovine Tuberculosis. These diseases have not been detected anywhere in Michigan where wolves are present. It's time to listen to science and reason, and value the vital role that wolves play in our ecosystem.
I encourage all Michigan voters with an interest in conservation to join the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign at www.keepwolvesprotected.com.