Wolf Shootings on the Rise, Rewards Offered

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Two more Gogebic County wolves recently were found dead from gunshot wounds, and rewards are now posted for information in the investigation of two Iron County wolf killings.

Officers responded Nov. 16 to a mortality signal from a tracking collar and found the dead wolf in the Black River, north of Powder Horn Mountain. This is the sixth known wolf killing so far this year, and the second wolf found in the same area of Gogebic County in last several days. The other wolf was found Nov. 6, eight miles north of Ironwood.

A $1,500 reward is offered in each of two Iron County cases where wolves were found dead last month. Both animals died as the result of gunshot wounds. Officials discovered the first of two dead females Sept. 22, about seven miles north of US-2, on the east side of Forest Highway 16. The other was located Oct. 2 near the Deerfoot Lodge Road, near the Fence River in northeastern Iron County.

Other incidents so far this year include:

  • Sept. 17, DNR officials recovered a dead wolf in Mackinac County Northeast of Engadine in Mackinac County. The adult female was collared in central Minnesota with a GPS satellite collar. Before coming to Michigan she had moved from central Minnesota north into Ontario near Thunder Bay. She came back through Minnesota, across Wisconsin, and was first located in the Engadine area in early July. Experts suspect she was shot in early September, and necropsy reports concluded that she died of gunshot wounds.
  • July 3, DNR staff responded to a wolf collar mortality signal just east of Pickford in Chippewa County, and recovered the collar from the East Branch of the Munuscong River. The collar had been cut off and thrown into the River. This was an adult male captured June 11, about 20 miles north of St. Ignace in Mackinac County.

Rewards are offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting the Iron County animals, through the Report-all-Poaching Program. The RAP Hotline, toll free at 800-292-7800, allows people to report information about illegal activity relative to wildlife and outdoor activities.

The gray wolf is listed as a threatened species in Michigan and protected as an endangered species under federal law. Like bald eagles, moose, fisher and other animals, wolves play an important role in the ecosystem, and the wolf recovery is a strong indicator of Michigan's environmental health.

There is no evidence that healthy wolves pose a threat to humans. Each year, people occupying the same areas as wolves rarely see the animals. Regardless, humans were known to have shot and killed six wolves in Michigan last year. Five of those cases resulted in convictions.

"This year, we are reminding people who see wolves in the woods that they do not need to fear them, and shooting them is both a serious crime and a blow to wildlife conservation," said Lt. Thomas Courchaine, DNR District Law Supervisor. "It is an offense we take seriously, and plan to prosecute to the fullest extent possible."

Hunters are reminded that a moratorium on the coyote season is in effect Nov. 15-30 to protect wolves.