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Biologist speaks out about safey of Michigan woods

[large thumbnail url=”biologist-speaks-out-about-safey-of-michigan-woods” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”01″ day=”06″] [thumbnail icon url=”biologist-speaks-out-about-safey-of-michigan-woods” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”01″ day=”06″] A recent attack on a hunting dog in Michigan Upper Peninsula, attributed to wolves, has brought out the wolf hate from the local public, along with claims that human attacks won’t be far behind. Famed Isle Royale biologist, Rolf Peterson, offered his expert opinion on the situation.

It has always been a sore topic with wolf advocates. The propensity of wolves to kill dogs. Many wolf advocates feel a similar affinity to dogs as they do for wolves. The relationships are clear and the similarities are not just behavioral, but also genetic.

Brad Soroka, from the Upper Michigan Source, reported on a story of a hunting dog getting killed, presumably by wolves, in the Michigan Upper Peninsula forests.

The dog was chasing a rabbit, went out of sight, and was killed. Nothing was seen, but wolf tracks near the dog, and the nature and history of wolves, suggested it was the large, related member of the canid family was responsible for the attack.

Sadly, the story incited much wolf hate. Michigan’s wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Act holds provisions for protection of human life, in which case a wolf can be controlled through lethal means. However, the Act does not contain similar provisions for animals.

Red-riding hood syndrome kicked in. People claiming human lives were at risk from wolves. That open season should be declared on both wolves and coyotes.

There are an estimated 600 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. About three percent of the number of estimated black bears in the same area.

Soroka wrote a follow-up story: U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Wildlife Ecology Prof. speak out

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife spoke about their goals to delist the gray wolf, which they have successfully done in Montana and Idaho – however, there are legal challenges against this plan. When an animal is delisted, the control of the population returns to the states. Montana and Idaho immediately responded to acquiring this new power by establishing wolf hunting in their states.

To the credit of Upper Michigan Source and Soroka, they contacted Dr. Rolf Peterson from the Isle Royale research project, the longest such project in the world.

It’s something that advocates for wolves know, but “killing dogs is something that wolves do,” explains Peterson. “… they view dogs as a competitor.”

Did Dr. Peterson feel the woods were unsafe – answering assertions made by those who responded to the original story? 

“Killing a dog is very different from harming a person. Wolves know the difference. No, I don’t regard the woods as an unsafe place.”

 Read the full article about Lilo’s death and the reaction of the local human population, and the full extent of Dr. Peterson’s responses.

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