MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Twenty-three wolves were killed in the Upper Peninsula during Michigan's first wolf hunt in four decades, the state reported Wednesday.
One kill was reported on the hunt's final day Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said. The department had a quota of 43 for the hunt. Officials said that unusually cold weather probably kept the hunt in check.
DNR Wildlife biologist Brian Roell, in the Marquette office, said the hunt was a success, citing what he said was the state's first use of a call-in system to keep track of animals killed. Decades ago, Michigan simply offered a bounty for wolves killed. When their numbers declined significantly, they were listed as a federally protected endangered species for four decades, ending in 2012.
The hunt took place in three Upper Peninsula zones where the animal has been deemed problematic, Roell told MLive.com. He said there could be several reasons for the few number of wolves killed, including that they are a new species being hunted, the cold temperatures and relatively small hunting zones.
Hunters also have told Roell that there were dramatic changes in how wolves behave after hunters entered the woods.
"It's hard to make any declarative statement with one year's worth of data," Roell said.
Five of the maximum 16 wolves were killed in the far western U.P., 14 of 19 in four central counties and four of eight in the eastern U.P.
The wolf hunting season opened Nov. 15. Before the season, the DNR estimated that Michigan had 658 wolves.
Wolf hunt supporters say it addresses a problem of attacks on livestock and pets.
Opponents say the hunt was poorly planned and endangers the wolf's recovery.
"This whole hunt is happening because of tall tales and fear mongering," said Jill Fritz, Michigan director for The Humane Society of the United States and the director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. Pro- and anti-wolf hunt ballot petition drives are underway.
The DNR and the sate National Resources Commission will study the 2013 hunt in the first half of 2014 and decide if there should be a hunt this year.