Evaluating the Principles of Wildlife Conservation: a Case Study of Wolf (Canis lupus) Hunting in Michigan
July 3, 2019
Details surrounding any particular instance of predator control are varied. Addressing the appropriateness of predator control requires attention to those details. Here, we focus on the case of wolf (Canis lupus) hunting in Michigan. In Michigan, wolves were removed from the list of United States endangered species in December 2011. By June 2013, plans had been finalized to begin hunting wolves in fall 2013. According to these plans, a purpose of the hunt was to reduce wolf abundance in particular regions of Michigan to reduce threats to livestock and human safety. Here, we evaluate those plans using 2 basic tenets of wildlife management. The 1st tenet is the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which is held in high regard by many hunting organizations, wildlife professionals, and state agencies. A central component of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is a set of 7 principles representing ideas such as that wildlife is held in the public trust, management should be based on principles of democracy and best-available science, and wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose. The 2nd tenet pertains to the ability to answer 3 fundamental questions: What is the purpose or goal of a management action? How will the management action meet the purpose or goal of the actions? Why are the purpose and goals appropriate? Plans for hunting wolves in Michigan appear not to meet the principles of either tenet. This conclusion suggests that either wolf hunting as it has been planned in Michigan is inappropriate or both sets of standards for evaluating wildlife management are inappropriate. Better understanding of issues like this will require reflecting on the fundamental nature of wildlife management and its guiding principles.
Author(s): John A. Vucetich, Jeremy T. Bruskotter, Michael Paul Nelson, Rolf O. Peterson, and Joseph K. Bump