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.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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