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.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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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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