Wolves in Michigan 2011.07.07

Written by David Green.

A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Michigan Technological University (MTU) are looking into the potential removal of wolves from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and what that removal means for Michigan’s residents–both people and wolves.

“We’re covering new ground here,” said Michelle Lute, a graduate student in MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, whose doctoral work focuses on this issue. “The distribution and abundance of wolves are just the beginning; we would like to understand why people value–or don’t value–wolves and what management strategies they will support.”

The team is supported by a grant from the MDNR to improve the effectiveness of current and future wolf management in Michigan by increasing knowledge and understanding of the social factors influencing support for wolves and wolf management.

“Once wolves are removed from federal protection, it is up to Michigan to manage its own wolf population,” said Meredith Gore, assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and adviser to Lute. “Wolves can be considered an endangered species success story and are becoming the ‘poster species’ for delisting. We have a good idea of what current wolf management in Michigan looks like, yet we are trying to understand how people will coexist with wolves under potentially new management scenarios.”

The four-year project will feature surveys, focus groups and media analysis to:

• identify current risk perceptions, values, beliefs, attitudes, social and personal norms, and behaviors among stakeholder groups to help to predict public responses to potential policy changes;

• understand how risk perception and values affect willingness of stakeholder groups to support wolves and wolf management; 

• and develop decision-support tools to help managers assess the ability of management strategies to balance stakeholder preferences, minimize wolf-related conflicts, maximize stakeholder benefits from wolves, foster positive interactions with wolves and manage relationships between people and wolves.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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