Do We Need Central Command to Manage Our Moose?

By Glen Wunderlich

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will aid the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the federal agency’s evaluation of whether the northwestern subspecies of moose – found in four states including Michigan – should be added to the list of threatened and endangered species affording federal protection. 


The northwestern moose subspecies (Alces alces andersoni) found in the Upper Peninsula, including Isle Royale, northeastern and northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota, as well as a small, recently established population in Wisconsin is being evaluated for Endangered Species, brought on by a petition submitted by The Center for Biological Diversity and Honor the Earth.


It’s a simple scheme:  Get the animal listed for protection so that it can never be hunted, unless it is returned to all of its original territory.  That’s the current position, as determined by a federal judge relative to our wolf population – even though wolves are well beyond any established recovery goals.  And, if these extremists get their way, the same precedent-setting “logic” will be applied to moose.


During the subspecies status review – commonly referred to as a “12-month finding” –the Service will take a closer look at the moose subspecies population, including threats.

At this point, the Service will solicit additional scientific and commercial information from all sources to inform their decision.  Ninety-day findings are published in the Federal Register and represent the Service’s first step in assessing the measures proposed in the petition.


“In Michigan, the moose population has declined for a variety of reasons, including habitat loss, predation and climate change,” Russ Mason, DNR Chief said. “Moose thrive in cold conditions due to their thick insulating fur, long legs and wide feet. Warmer temperatures put moose at risk of overheating, which causes malnutrition and immune system concerns.” 


Moose are native to Michigan and occurred throughout all except the southwestern Lower Peninsula prior to European settlement. With habitat loss, hunting and brainworm, moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s, and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula.


In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and released them in Marquette County near Michigamme. These relocated moose increased their numbers, given improved habitat conditions with fewer white-tailed deer and poaching widely discontinued.


DNR population surveys in recent years have estimated the moose population at roughly 400 in the western U.P. and, based on citizen reports and field observations, about 100 in the eastern part of the region.  Michigan Natural Resources Commission determined that current conditions of the state’s moose population did not support authorizing a hunt.


The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) makes a living suing mainly the federal government, and then recouping those fees and more. The Obama Administration recently cut a deal with the anti-hunting activists at the CBD on accelerated Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings. Per the legal agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required to consider adding 757 species, subspecies, or distinct population segments to the list of endangered or threatened species. Decisions on all 757 must be rendered by October, 2016. The list includes species that are presently fished, hunted or trapped, including golden trout, cottontail rabbits, sage grouse, fisher, and wolverine.


The question is do we really need a judge from “Central Command” to mandate how we manage our wildlife?  I think not, but it’s a moot point – for now.


Have You Been Targeted?

SCI Litigation Wants to Know!

Animal rights and anti-hunting groups have made public records requests of state and federal agencies to get personal information about hunters. On some occasions, the groups used the information to harass hunters – sending ugly and even threatening e-mails and letters, and sometimes worse. Were you contacted by an individual or organization that requested and/or received your information? If so, we want to hear from you. Email and tell us about it.

North Carolina Bill Would Put Money in HSUS’s Pocket

HSUS’s pals at PETA put out a few press releases every year calling for roadside memorials to animals killed in accidents. Now, a roadside memorial bill in North Carolina would result in cash to HSUS.

Meet House Bill 1066. The bill has nothing to do with animals. Rather it would establish a program to develop roadside memorials for people killed in automobile accidents.

Under the law, family members of the deceased would apply for a memorial. If accepted, the grieving family would pay five-hundred dollars for the memorial. No problem so far. But here’s the troubling part:

“Any fees remaining after covering the costs specified in this section shall be transferred on a quarterly basis to The Humane Society of the United States to be used to cover costs associated with rescuing animals in North Carolina”.

The bill states HSUS must use the money to “cover costs associated with rescuing animals in North Carolina.” HSUS only gives between $30,000 and $45,000 to pet shelters in North Carolina, according to its most recent tax return (2014). Yet HSUS holds over $250 million in total assets, and sent $55 million to Caribbean accounts that year. That’s to say nothing of the millions HSUS paid to settle a racketeering lawsuit.

From HSUS’s (unscrupulous) perspective, it’s a perfect play: Indefinite, free fundraising from people who can’t choose to donate anywhere else, such as local shelters that actually help animals.

There are plenty of other organizations that could use—and deserve—the money better than HSUS.

We’re guessing that, like a lot of people, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Bradford III, thought HSUS was a legitimate organization. For those wishing to educate him about HSUS, his email is

HSUS: Animals Over Hungry People?

If there’s one thing the Humane Society of the United States seems opposed to, it’s common sense. But in light of events in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you might be able to add logic, scientific facts, and feeding the hungry.  But before we get there, here’s the backstory.

Struggling with an out of control deer population, the city of Ann Arbor approved a deer cull given that deer-vehicle collisions were up 75%, the deer were straining the ecosystem, and the near certain increase in ticks carrying Lyme disease. Despite these sensible grounds, activists were outraged that deer had been hunted in their city.

Unsurprisingly, HSUS led the charge on non-lethal population control last year, lobbying for Ann Arbor to use birth control on female deer. Interestingly, the birth control, PZP, is developed using pig ovaries, while HSUS is generally against medical research using animals.

HSUS’s political ideology puts it at odds with biological and ecological experts.  According to wildlife expert Jim Sterba, PZP “for free-ranging whitetails, does not work. And it is neither practicable nor affordable.” That’s because PZP efficacy has only been proven on isolated populations , such as animals on islands or those living in a fenced environment. University of Michigan professor Christopher Dick, a biologist, had a blunter word for what HSUS is advocating: “Pseudoscience.” Read more

Lion Kill Fest: The Impact of the HSUS Ideology

When the “Cecil” the lion issue took place last summer, the Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal-rights organization in the country, fought to end the importation of lion trophies to the United States under the guise of protecting the remaining “endangered” population (an action the Sportsmen’s Alliance fought).

HSUS won that battle in part (but not in full, as explained below). Lion trophy importation from Zimbabwe (where the Cecil incident occurred) has effectively ended (although the door has not yet been conclusively slammed shut). But, as the Sportsmen’s Alliance said would happen, the consequence of shutting down trophy imports from Zimbabwe has had the opposite effect of what HSUS claimed – as now unsustainable populations of lions will likely face slaughter as new rules shut down the flow of money from U.S. trophy hunters.Lion-By Rumpleteaser (FlickrCC) sized for web

Currently, at least 200 lions are being considered for culling because of an unsustainable management paradigm – overpopulation and no revenue stream for continued support. And a revenue stream it is.

If just those 200 lions are killed, that’s a loss of $10 million dollars to just one area’s anti-poaching efforts, habitat conservation and acquisition, academic studies and all associated ancillary benefits to the local economy and people. The shortsighted and unsustainable rhetoric of the Humane Society of the United States and other animal-rights “warriors” is leading to more bloodshed in the form of economic and intrinsic loss of wildlife in Africa in mere months than has ever been spilled by hunters.

Read more

DNR: U.P. survey results indicate no significant change in Michigan’s wolf population

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife division officials said today the size of the state’s wolf population has not changed significantly since the last survey was conducted in 2014.

DNR wildlife researchers estimate there was a minimum of 618 wolves in the Upper Peninsula this winter. The 2014 minimum population estimate was 636 wolves.

A wolf walks through the Upper Peninsula woodlands. “The confidence intervals of the 2014 and 2016 estimates overlap, thus we can’t say with statistical confidence that the population decreased”, said Kevin Swanson, wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s Bear and Wolf Program in Marquette.

Confidence intervals are a range of values that describe the uncertainty surrounding an estimate.

Swanson said, based on the 2016 minimum population estimate, it is clear that wolf numbers in Michigan are viable, stable and have experienced no significant change since 2014.

“Currently, deer numbers in the U.P. are at lows not seen in decades and we wondered if there would be a decline in wolf numbers as a result of this reduction in their primary source of prey,” Swanson said. “We also did not observe a significant difference in the number and average size of wolf packs as compared to 2014.” Read more

HSUS’s CEO May Be Coming to Your Town

This from

Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle has a new book coming out today called The Humane Economy. You don’t need to have read it to be familiar with his general goal: A “humane economy” to Wayne Pacelle is one that doesn’t use animals. After all, Pacelle has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born” and he has been a vegan for about 30 years.

Pacelle’s book follows 2011’s The Bond—an odd title for a guy who said “There’s no special bond between me and other animals.” For that book, Vain Wayne started off with a dozen-city or so tour—before expanding it to a months-long, 100-city international tour. We went to one event and weren’t particularly impressed with the turnout.

If Pacelle is coming to a town near you, we encourage readers to show up and ask him a tough question. He’s slick—but we’d like to see him talk his way out of these. HSUS supporters deserve answers. And if you do ask him, take a video on your cell phone if you can.

Five Questions for Wayne Pacelle:

  1. How can you justify HSUS sticking over $100 million into Caribbean investments between 2012 and 2014 when animals are suffering now?
  2. Why should anyone trust a man who, when asked if he envisioned a future without pets, said, “If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” (Note: If Wayne tries to dismiss these quotes as “things on the Internet,” they come from a published book.)
  3. You criticize companies for being motivated by profit—yet you yourself recently bought a house for over $1 million in cash and have made over $4 million in compensation from HSUS over your tenure. Aren’t you motivated by money as well?
  4. Whenever we tell people that HSUS has nothing to do with your local “humane society,” most people are completely surprised. How can you honestly claim that your members are aware of the difference?
  5. Whenever there’s a natural disaster HSUS’s fundraising kicks into high gear. You raised over $2 million off of Hurricane Sandy, but only spent one-third of that on Sandy relief. How do you justify the slick, emotional marketing when you know the money will likely not be used for that specific issue?


Pacelle’s tour schedule (may be updated periodically): Read more

Maine Supreme Court Sides with Sportsmen

After nearly a year and a half of fighting in court, and more than $100,000 spent, sportsmen in Maine were victorious today against a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Today’s victory was the latest in a long line of victories by the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council and the Sportsmen’s Alliance in this case.

In early 2015, Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler sided with sportsmen and dismissed a lawsuit aimed at silencing Maine’s wildlife professionals on grounds that it was moot. Today’s Supreme Judicial Court ruling upheld that decision, effectively ending the issue. Read more

Michigan Coyote Management and the Usual Suspects

This from Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC)

On Thursday, the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association gave a presentation on trapping to legislators and policy-makers at the Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus breakfast at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing. This presentation dispelled common myths about modern trapping practices perpetuated by anti-hunting groups like the Humane Society of the United States. Later that day, the Natural Resources Commission met in Holland and considered a proposed wildlife conservation order to expand coyote hunting opportunities year-round and allowing the use of #3 and #4 buckshot at night for coyotes, both MUCC resolutions. HSUS predictably testified against the expansion, while Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association testified in favor. The NRC will decide next month under their Proposal G authority to determine method and manner of take.

Biologists conducting U.P. wolf survey, DNR supporting efforts to return wolf management to Michigan

On a snow-swept back road in Delta County, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist drives his vehicle slowly. Watching out his windows, he scans each set of animal tracks he sees pushed into the fresh snow.

Among the footprints left by bobcats, white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare and other animals, he’s looking for the large-pawed tracks of gray wolves, laid out in a path down the road or into the woods.

Discovering wolf tracks – and then following them for long distances – helps biologists estimate population size and delineate where, and how, wolf packs are spending their time this winter.

Population dynamics

Originally native to Michigan, wolves had all but vanished from the Upper Peninsula – not including Isle Royale – by the early 1960s. This occurred through hunter bounties and as white-tailed deer populations declined.

A wildlife management specialist looks at a set of coyote tracks in the fresh snow on a road in Delta County.Michigan protected wolves as endangered species in 1965. Federal protections were solidified under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

As neighboring Wisconsin’s wolf population began to rebound during the 1970s, reports of lone wolf sightings increased in the U.P. Biologists confirmed a pair of wolves in the central U.P. in the late 1980s, a union that produced pups in 1991.

Since the winter of 1993-94, combined wolf numbers in Michigan and Wisconsin have surpassed 100, meeting federally established goals for population recovery. The Michigan goal of a minimum sustainable population of 200 wolves for five consecutive years also was achieved.

From 1994 to 2003, the U.P. wolf population saw an average annual growth rate of 19 percent. Growth shrunk to 12 percent as the wolf population neared the maximum level the U.P. could sustain – the biological carrying capacity.

Since 2011, wolf population estimates have not changed significantly. The DNR’s most recent minimum estimate of the U.P. wolf population was 636, issued in spring 2014.

A new DNR wolf survey began in December. No preliminary results are available yet, but a new minimum population estimate is expected in April.

Biologists are surveying wolf populations in some areas and extrapolating that data to estimate the number of wolves across the region.

“As we’ve done over the past few years, to reduce staff effort and expense, a stratified sampling method is being used to carry out the survey throughout the Upper Peninsula,” said Kevin Swanson, a wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s bear and wolf program. “We are now more than halfway through that survey period.”

During February, survey biologists began looking for signs of breeding exhibited by scent marking and blood in urine, which indicates a female wolf may be in estrus (heat).

“Based on the wolf sign I am finding while searching for packs in central and southern Marquette County, northern Menominee and northern Delta counties, I do not anticipate any drastic fluctuations in wolf abundance in that particular area,” Swanson said. “But results may vary significantly in other parts of the U.P.”

The migration of deer from the northern to the southern parts of the U.P. was postponed by several weeks thisA dark-colored wolf walks through the woods in the Upper Peninsula. winter, which has been comparatively milder than the past three.

“The delayed deer migration is now over in many areas so we will focus more of our survey efforts in deer yarding complexes, places where wolves frequent to prey on deer,” Swanson said.

In the Lower Peninsula, over the past few years, there have been persistent reports of sightings, tracks and other evidence of wolves.

In March 2014, biologists with the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians discovered tracks and collected scat from what was presumed to be a wolf in Emmet County. DNR biologists also visited the site.

In September 2015, confirmation was received from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, that the Emmet County scat submitted for DNR analysis was from a male gray wolf. This marked the second confirmation of wolf presence in the Lower Peninsula since 1910. The first occurred in 2004 when a wolf collared by the DNR in Mackinac County was caught and accidentally killed by a coyote trapper in Presque Isle County.

The DNR’s ongoing wolf track surveys are conducted only in the U.P. Wolf reports in the Lower Peninsula continue to be investigated.

Legal challenges

In January 2012, citing wolf recovery in the region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took gray wolves off the federal endangered species list in Michigan and Wisconsin and the threatened species list in Minnesota.

“Gray wolves are thriving in the Great Lakes region, and their successful recovery is a testament to the hard  work of the Service and our state and local partners,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said at the time. “We are confident state and tribal wildlife managers in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will effectively manage healthy wolf populations now that federal protection is no longer needed.”

The ruling allowed Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to manage wolves according to their wolf management plans. Michigan’s plan was crafted with the help of a panel representing a wide span of interests ranging from Native American tribes to trappers, hunters and environmentalists.

The 1997 plan, which was updated in 2008 and 2015, allowed for lethal means to control a limited number of wolves each year where conflicts had occurred. Michigan law allowed citizens to kill wolves that were actively preying on their hunting dogs or livestock.

However, Michigan’s laws on wolf depredation and the ability of wildlife managers to use lethal means, includingThree wolves are shown on a trail in an aerial photo of a snow-covered landscape in the Upper Peninsula. hunting, to control wolves was suspended in December 2014, after a ruling from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

In a lawsuit challenging the federal delisting, the court ruling found in favor of the Humane Society of the United States, ordering wolves returned to federal protection. Wolves have since remained classified as endangered species in Michigan and Wisconsin and threatened in Minnesota.

Because of the federal endangered species status, wolves may legally be killed in Michigan only in defense of human life.

After the court’s finding, Michigan, Wisconsin, some private groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appealed the decision, filing their initial legal briefs in the case late last year.

“In over a decade of litigating about delisting the gray wolf, this is the first time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been willing to bring an appeal,” said Trevor VanDyke, director of the DNR’s Legislative and Legal Affairs Office in Lansing. Read more

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