Kristi Lloyd on Michigan Wolves

wolf image

While our new wolf pack here in southern Oregon is apparently thriving, I’d like to shift to other locations and discuss how wolves are doing elsewhere.

This post was written by Kristi Lloyd, who provides a powerful voice for wolves in her home state of Michigan. Kristi is also an advisor for Wolves of the Rockies, a Montana based advocacy group.  Kristi is a wonderful individual, one I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know during a couple of trips to Yellowstone. Besides being dedicated, passionate, and well-informed about all things wolf, Kristi is a blast to hang out with!

The text will inform you on the status of wolves in Michigan. At the same time, it may surprise you as Kristi recounts some of the hard to believe details of the fight to protect Michigan’s wolves. Seems those who want wolves gone will go to extremes to win their case, no matter what it takes…

 

Kristi Lloyd, Kim Bean, Kc York, and myself at Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park in June of 2013.

Kristi Lloyd, Kim Bean, Kc York, and myself at Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park in June of 2013.

“Gray wolves once inhabited all of Michigan’s eighty-three counties, which include both the Upper (UP) and Lower Peninsulas.  In 1838 Michigan began a bounty program for wolves. In 1922, a trapping system was implemented and the bounty program ended. But it resumed in 1935, the same year the last wolf was killed in Yellowstone National Park by government trappers.  By 1960 the only wolves in the lower 48 were in Minnesota and Isle Royale National Park. Only one wolf was reported in Michigan in 1959.

In 1965, Michigan gave the gray wolf protection under state law. They were then added to the Federal Endangered Species List in 1974.  Also that year there was an attempt to reintroduce wolves to the UP of Michigan, but the four wolves brought from MN were illegally killed and the decision was made to let wolves migrate and colonize on their own.

Michigan’s wolves were removed from the Federal Endangered List in January 2012.  On December 27, 2012, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed the bill that approved a wolf hunt in Michigan. This hunt went from November 15 through December 31, 2013 and was held in 3 separate areas in the UP. Twenty-two wolves being killed out of a quota of forty-three. Trapping was not allowed but trappers are pushing for a trapping season in 2014.  The hunt was said to make wolves more wary of humans (a typical, nonsensical excuse) and to reduce livestock conflicts.

Shortly after wolves the hunt was approved, an organization called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) was created to fight the wolf hunt that was politically motivated, as it is in all of the wolf-hunting states.

KMWP

KMWP put together a petition drive for a ballot initiative to repeal the designation of wolves as a game species which opened the door to a hunt. A minimum of 225,000 signatures from MI registered voters had to be collected and submitted within ninety days from December 27, 2012. The petition drive began in January of 2013. Throughout the winter MI residents were circulating and signing the petition. (I was one of them, brrrrr!!)

Some of us took abuse from those in favor of the wolf hunt.  It seems just the mere mention of the word “wolf” makes some people think they can talk to others in any fashion they like. Of course we heard the usual UNscientific, UNdocumented “facts”…wait ‘til they eat one of your kids, they are killing all the deer, they are taking babies from strollers (yes, this was actually said), as was, kill ‘em all!  But, before March 27, 2013 there were enough signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot which would repeal the designation of wolves as a game species.  Over 256,000 signatures were collected in two months and submitted to the Board of Canvassers (BOC) office.  KMWP had also garnered support from residents and organizations from across the state.

wolf drawing

While awaiting the signatures to be verified through the BOC, the GOP-dominated legislature came up with a way to keep the ballot proposal from being voted on.  A new bill, created by Senator Tom Casperson to intentionally head off the proposal, was introduced and passed. This bill gave the unelected, appointed Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the authority to designate game species and they promptly took action.

The MI Constitution gives MI residents the right to referendum laws so what the legislature did was cut off the voices of 256,000 registered voters. The new bill would deflect the ballot proposal since the NRC is not an elected body.  The goal was to ensure that there was no public support against the wolf hunt.

KMWP again went to work and created another petition for yet another ballot proposal. This one would repeal the law in which the unelected NRC is given the authority to designate game species. Originally, the authority was granted to the Senate in 1996 with the passing of Proposal G.

Once again, this petition drive took place during one the coldest, snowiest winters on record. 160,000 signatures were needed to repeal the law, and once again that goal was attained and exceeded with 183,000 signatures collected. There will be two ballot proposals for MI residents to vote on in November, 2014.  One is to repeal the wolf being designated a game species and the other to repeal the law of giving the NRC authority to designate game species.

A coalition of “conservationists” called Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management (CPWM), consisting of hunters, hounders and trappers was created and drew up its own ballot initiative.  This organization is backed by state legislators, out-of-state organizations like the Safari Club International, Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation (even though ALL the wolves are in the UP and ALL the elk are in the LP), as well as the National Turkey Federation.

Professional and scientific evidence demonstrating that wolf hunts are not effective to minimize conflicts between wolves and livestock was offered by Michigan Technological University’s Dr. John Vucetich and Dr. Rolf Peterson (both of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study and have studied wolves for decades) to the NRC and to the legislature in the spring of 2013. This information went out the window. The wolf hunt was based on lies, MISinformation and fabrications—and one particular cattle farmer in the UP.

Out of nine hundred working livestock farms in the UP, this farm, owned by John Koski, was the site of 80% of all of the livestock depredations. Koski was in violation of the law by leaving cow carcasses on his property and using deer legs to attract wolves onto his (uninhabited) farm. He was given kill permits by the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) and he used them to give to friends to kill wolves on his property.  Twenty-two wolves were killed on this property. wolf drawing 2

One of the agents involved with this  lethal removal was a judge who had written (along with Senator Tom Casperson) the resolution to delist MI’s wolves…which was based on a fabricated incident regarding wolves and a day care center. The judge, Anders Tingstad, called the resolution one of his best writings. Senator Casperson said in a news article in November, 2013 that if the information was found to be inaccurate he would rescind the resolution.  But in December, when he apologized for lying about the information in the resolution, he said he would not rescind the resolution.  In his apology for lying, Casperson pointed fingers and laid blame at others, further spewing MISinformation saying that wolves can and will attack people (there are no recorded wolf attacks on humans in MI). How sincere is that apology?  He also says wolves live in “herds” and called Dr. Rolf  Peterson Dr. Wolf.

John Koski was finally charged with animal neglect after an investigative news series revealed the carcasses and deer legs. Mr. Koski made a plea bargain and pleaded no contest to a charge of attempted animal neglect regarding the deaths of two guard donkeys and the removal of another one. He was found guilty and ordered to pay approximately $1,900 in court costs/fees. Koski had received over $30,000 in compensation for livestock losses and the DNR/Wildlife Services used another $200,000 in resources (tax payer $$) to work with Mr. Koski.

Since then, Mr. Koski has sold his cows and is in the process of selling his farm property. 70% of the wolves killed for his benefit were not involved in livestock attacks within five miles of where they were killed, and some had not been involved in a livestock depredation in one, two or three years.

An employee within the DNR, Adam Bump the fur bearer specialist, fabricated a story saying that wolves were peering into homeowners’ sliding glass doors and not being scared off when the owners banged on the doors. Through a FOIA request it was found this never happened and Mr. Bump apologized for his statement where he “misspoke”. The apology also came out after the investigative news story.  He “misspoke” in May but it was not addressed by the DNR or corrected until November of 2013. One of the NRC Commissioners, JR Richardson, tossed thousands of public comments and a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (that were solicited by the DNR/NRC but never opened) into a dump file.

Over 2,000 comments were against the wolf hunt, only thirteen were for the wolf hunt. And yet this organization, Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, swears up and down that the wolf hunt is based on science. And why are they now asking for “professional” wildlife management? Why is their initiative being called the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act? They collected over 300,000 signatures for their initiative, which will NOT go to the voters of MI. It will go to the very same legislature that rammed the wolf hunt through in the first place.  The legislature will have forty days after signature verification to take up this proposal or reject it. The signatures were turned in toward the end of last month and might take six weeks or so to be verified.

Those who circulated this petition used the “your hunting rights are being taken away!” line as well as “protect your right to hunt!” and mostly everything was against KMWP and/or the Humane Society of the United States. This organization also wants $1 million to fight the invasive Asian carp, which is really an appropriation. Appropriations attached to a citizens initiative make it referendum proof…there will be no recourse if this bill is not rejected by the legislature. They also want free hunting and fishing licenses for military members and while they do deserve that perk, it will result in the loss of millions of dollars in grants for conservation, preservation via Pittman-Robertson and Johnson-Dingall funding. There will be no taxes paid on those licenses.

Wolf hunts are based on science, eh? They are if you ask Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Minnesota and now Michigan. Where is this science? I have asked that question many, many times and I get the same answer….silence. Sometimes I get insults and personal attacks. I’d rather have the silence. One more time…where is the science? ”

Kristi at the Lamar River, YNP.

Kristi at the Lamar River, YNP. Photo courtesy of Wolves of the Rockies.

 

26 thoughts on “Kristi Lloyd on Michigan Wolves

  1. Excellent job by my friend and colleague, the awesome Ms. Kristi Lloyd! Once again this proves beyond any reasonable doubt that those who want to kill wolves, whether they are hunters, irresponsible ranchers/farmers or lying politicians will stop at NOTHING to further their own warped, ignorant agenda. Wasting taxpayer dollars and circumventing law abiding, registered voters is just business as usual for them. To say these people are beneath contempt is a vast understatement.

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  2. I’m a Minnesota wolf advocate and my husband and I have followed the Michigan fight for there wolves closely. I believe you guys can do this as your state still lets the people put something on the ballot. In Minnesota sadly the people don’t have that power. We had our two bills stall in committee this year because on a couple bad democrats. Safari International has also been taking these key people out to africa to shoot something.
    In Minnesota the stronghold of the wolf, we have marveled at the tenacity, strength and the heart of this bad ass wolf group. We tip our hats to you all in Michigan.
    Godspeed you guys, here’s to fighting a good fight for our valued wildlife. Your on the right side of history. You are an essential inspiration to all who fight for the wild things.
    Go get’um
    Denise and Tommy
    Minnesota

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    • Thanks, Denise! We are working hard trying to get the legislature to reject our opposition’s proposal and to let it get on the ballot for MI voters to have their say. I know things aren’t easy in MN either. We just have to keep at it and chip away and for the long haul.
      Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond.

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  3. Kristi….once again, I want to thank you for your dedication and tenacity in this fight to save wolves.
    Having been involved in this war for a period of time now, maybe you can shed some light on why “conservation” groups shy away from litigation based on the Public Trust Doctrine. I’ve posed this question to numerous officers directing the policies of wolf advocacy groups and the answer is always “I don’t know” or “if we lose, it will set a bad precedent”. As you know, it was written to assure that the public had a equal and legal right to participate in wildlife management based on science, and not based on the desires of special interest groups…..wildlife belongs to all the people and is to be “managed” for the benefit of all by the state or federal agencies.
    Sooooo…..can you speculate as to why conservation groups shy away from addressing this issue?

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    • I wonder, too! I do know The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is not shy about taking legal action on behalf of animals. Interesting page on FB. With so much legal work to do, I just hope they’re not the only attorneys for animals!

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  4. Thank you, Jerry. I think the main reason for not using the Public Trust Doctrine is that they are not seen as “winnable”. Some orgs won’t take a case unless they think they can win it. Using the Public Trust Doctrine has been tried in MI, CT and FL and all the cases were lost. I think the definition of the Doctrine is too broad and subject to interpretation, although to us it seems very clear. Going to court is expensive and I think some of those orgs would rather not lose money from pursing a lawsuit.

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  5. I have been following everything Wolf over the last year and this article is amazing. She puts a lot of important and pertinent information all into one article. Those lying deceitful sick individuals could never back their actions like this article backs true facts. Well done! And yay for Wolves.

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    • Thank you, KIm. Michigan’s legislature dragged us into the mud with other wolf states like ID, MT, WY, WI, MN. This goes to show that the wolf fight is not about wolves, it’s politics and for the benefit of a small minority. They have no facts, but a lot of fairy tales. Keep cheering for the wolves!

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  6. Thank you for untangling the chronology of Michigan’s war on wolves. Your article serves as reference material for those of us foolish enough to disagree online with the state’s anti-wolf contingent–thereby unleashing furious, abusive commentary. How can wolf defenders from other states help those in Michigan? Is the Wildlife Legal Defense Fund addressing this critical issue?

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    • Hi Maureen, quite a mess, isn’t it? Yes, the anti-wolf contingent cannot back anything up except to use insults and personal attacks. They have nothing else. If you or others have friends, family in Michigan ask them to contact their state senators, representatives and ask them to reject the proposal called The Scientific Fish And Wildlife Management Act. If the legislature rejects it this proposal will go on the ballot for MI voters to vote for or against.
      I am not aware of the WLDF involved in this but the Humane Society of the US is. Thanks for asking!

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  7. I have been working with you hanging door tags; signatures; coming to benefits & donating. I am 100% behind this. God bless you

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  8. Thank you so much Kristi….I very much appreciate you giving us all in detail just what is happening in your state….you have really explained it well and now after reading your article I have a much better understanding just what has been going on..and the horrible corruption that seems to continue when it comes to these amazing beautiful animals.. I am truly sorry. Please continue what you are doing…you are such a strong voice..and I very much appreciate all you do

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    • Bless you I work with keep Michigan wolves protected by volunteering; donating & collecting signatures and spreading info. Praise your efforts

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  9. appreciate what you are doing will be there ( well in the West) to help eradicate the hunters and sadists in those parts…

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  10. Great article, my friend. Thanks for your tireless efforts on behalf of wolves and all wildlife. You are a true inspiration, and a true warrior.

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  11. If your goal is a thriving wolf population in Michigan, you are fighting the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Hunters, trappers, anglers and the Michigan DNR are not the enemy. The enemies are polluters, extractors and developers that behave badly. For a species to thrive it needs contiguous, appropriate habitat. Recreational hunters and anglers have shown a willingness to invest both their time and money to protect, conserve, reconnect and restore habitat, not just for a single preferred species but on a landscape or watershed scale, benefitting game and nongame species. With the protection of the Endangered Species Act wolves probably don’t need hunters, but when they eventually are delisted, who if not hunters will do the good work to keep the ecosystem they need to thrive intact?

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    • hunters, ranchers and environmentalists must work together to stop the obliteration of our wilderness and ranch-land. Some groups are well on their way to securing land for elk and deer populations but that is just a small beginning to stop the ever increasing damage done by the industrialist and developer. The people have shown that they would like to see the wilderness tracts in the country in tact so they will need to fight those who wish to destroy it for greedy, selfish business enterprises.

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    • Hi Greg, a thriving wolf population is what the USFWS should want, but they don’t. They are trying to wash their hands of the wolf issue and proposing to delist all the wolves (except Mexican grays in AZ and NM) and give management to the states. This “management” consists of strangling snares, foot hold traps, shoot on sight, the use of hounds, rifles and bows. It also includes aerial gunning by Wildlife Services on behalf of ranchers and hunting orgs. Wolves regulate their own populations along with the availability of habitat and prey. Hunters and trappers have done NOTHING to aid in the recovery of wolves. The DNR is not an enemy, per se, but they are the tool by which pressure from special interest groups and the legislature is used to set hunting regulations. I agree with you about polluters, extractors and developers being no help. Many so-called conservationists also call for gut shooting, poisoning, SSS, smoke a pack a day, kill ’em all regarding wolves. Hunting wolves has been scientifically shown that it is counterproductive in attempting to reduce livestock attacks and in fact can increase conflicts with livestock. Wolves occupy the same habitat areas that their prey does so I imagine that improving habitat for deer and elk will also benefit the wolves. Trust me, no state wildlife department is looking out to make sure the wolves are thriving and have adequate habitat.

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  12. I can accept, but not really understand, someone taking a stand against hunting and fishing on their personal ethics or moral beliefs. But recreational hunting and trapping, with regulated seasons and limits, are just not as big a factor on establishing and maintaining a thriving population of a species. Maintaining good contiguous habitat that supports a variety of plants and animals is.There is no better demonstration than the mess on Isle Royal. We need to stop fighting over the fate of a few dozen individuals and start working toward addressing the real problems that could harm the whole [population.. Senate Bill 78 is headed for Governor Snyders desk. If signed it would forbid the Michigan DNR from managing our state land for biodiversity, If that bill becomes law, hunting, or not hunting, could be the least of our wolves problems. We need to start working together on the bigger picture.

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  13. Trapping is not ethical, not science-based, and the recreational part? Killing animals for fun, to fill spare time? Just how are unreported incidental catches regulated? The wolves were doing just fine without the random killing of them via hunts (management) since they manage themselves. How did any of them survive this long without “management” by humans?
    Talk to MI Sen. Tom Casperson (logging family background) and Rep. Andrea LaFontaine just what they think of science regarding biodiversity. They will take the $$ over data, facts, information every single time. Dr. Rolf Peterson and Dr. John Vucetich of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study were totally dismissed by these two, the rest of their committees and the Natural Resources Commission (which deleted 100’s of comments from the public that they had solicited). SB 78 died in committee, hasn’t been brought up recently, but it could be for sure. I agree with you on that it’s a horrible bill. I hope it stays dead.

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    • Kristi, I’m not a trapper, but I have been around some pretty good ones. Maybe I should have found a different modifier, but it would be hard to call a good trappers an amateur. Trapping is one of those outdoor activities that takes 10,000 hours to get really good at,and since they don’t really get paid enough to be called professionals, so I went with recreational. To be a successful trapper there is a lot more to it than just setting out tarps and hoping for the best.

      There will always be people around that see any water not being consumed, or land not in commercial production as a waste. Right now it tends to be Republicans in the past it’s been Democrats. That’s why it’s important we all work together to keep the landscape intact and all the species that depend on it viable.

      Merry Christmas Kristi.

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