LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – One state senator wants to make sure the Upper Peninsula is the only voice advising the state on how to manage its wolf population.
Gray wolves in the Lower 48 states were taken off the Endangered Species List in January, leaving individual states to decide how to manage the predators. That could range from reintroduction programs to increase their range to hunting programs to cull their numbers.
Here in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources has a Wolf Management Advisory Council to make non-binding recommendations on what steps to take. State law spells out the makeup of that council, making sure to represent interests like conservation, agriculture, hunting, tribal governments, and animal advocacy.
A bill introduced by State Sen. Ed McBroom cleared the State Senate Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday. It would require that all of the council’s members be residents of the Upper Peninsula.
People from the Lower Peninsula could only sit on the council if the DNR finds that wolves have moved into the Mitten, and even then, Yoopers would still make up the majority of the council’s members.
Gray wolves once lived all over the United States but were nearly eradicated from the Lower 48 until they were placed on the Endangered Species List. Since that time they have made a comeback, but right now Michigan only has wild wolves in the Upper Peninsula.
State Sen. McBroom has introduced bills in the past trying to increase the political influence of the Upper Peninsula in Lansing.
For example, he introduced Senate Bill 120, which would require at least 3 of the 7 members of the Michigan Natural Resource Commission to be from the Upper Peninsula as long as at least 35% of the land the DNR manages is in the U.P.
He also introduced Senate Bill 121, which would require the seats on the State Board of Education to be divided up geographically. The Upper Peninsula and Wayne County would both get one seat on the board, despite the latter having a population more than five times larger than the former.