Courtesy MPR News

HANCOCK – There’s no longer a debate about whether Michigan sportsmen can hunt gray wolves. A us district court judge in northern California put that to rest last week, when he restored federal protections for the animals. Wolves are considered a keystone species in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes’ ecosystems. Species protections were removed in January 2021, at the tail end of the trump administration. Locally, legislators like 110th District Representative Greg Markkanen are concerned about the decision. He said someone on the other side of the country should not decide such a major issue without understanding regional impacts.

“It doesn’t change the resolution at all, but what disturbs me and many of my colleagues, and all the sportsmen across the Upper Peninsula, is the fact that a judge in California is making a judgment call about the situation in the UP.” – Greg Markkanen,110th District Representative

Once present throughout the state, gray wolves, gained full state protection in 1965. Those state protections were then removed in 2009. The rebounding of the great lakes wolf population has been a success story for wildlife. And since the 1990’s the population in the state has grown to over 600 animals.

“Well, I think that, calmer heads [prevail.] If you look at the science. We know that the population in the UP, northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota have recovered. You know, [they have] a very healthy population.” – Greg Markkanen

The decision by the Californian judge has been praised by some, including the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. The organization does say that the restored protections only apply to great lakes wolves, and not those in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. UPEC says the restored federal protections are a good thing for the wolf population, and efforts for a recreational hunt in Michigan are halted for now.