As a forester, Rory Mattson should know the damage to the forest ecosystem caused by an over abundance of deer. Research has demonstrated that deer especially impact the regeneration of cedar, oak and hemlock in our forests.
In his letter, published 2/26/21, Mattson misrepresented facts about wolves and deer. There is not one peer reviewed study that supports his conclusion. Although Mattson correctly states each wolf kills approximately 20 deer per year, This assumes each is a healthy deer, which is inaccurate. He also fails to recognize the impact of other predators on deer.
Research shows that wolves target those deer easiest to catch — the old, the young, the sick — those animals least desired by hunters and least likely to make it through winter. Research also shows that weather, winter habitat and human hunters have the greatest impact on deer populations, not wolves.
Wolves provide many ecological benefits. In areas where there are wolves, there is a greater diversity of plants and ground vegetation, which in turn benefits ground nesting birds – simply because deer spend less time in one area to avoid predation. Research also suggests that wolves may limit the spread of CWD because they kill those infected at an early onset of the disease and consume the deer before the prions can be absorbed into the ground.
Through years of studying hundreds of collared moose, DNR has only documented one mainland U.P. moose killed by wolves and that moose had an underlying condition (brain worm) making it vulnerable to predation.
With only 695 wolves in the U.P. a hunting/trapping season would not be science based nor is it necessary. Wolves self-regulate their population as evidenced by the fact that the population has remained steady, absent a hunt, for 10 years; livestock losses are extremely low and wolves are not impacting ungulate populations.
By pushing for a U.P. wide hunting/trapping season, state legislators and hunting organizations who want to kill wolves for recreation, are again circumventing science and the will of Michigan voters who, in 2014, overwhelmingly said no to wolf hunting. Urge your state legislators to vote no on SR-15 and to stop relying on myths, hearsay and unsubstantiated claims. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(mz24of3r2y3fntamlxv3l5hm))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=2021-SR-0015&query=on
Predator/prey relationships are complex and there are many factors to consider. One thing’s for sure, there are plenty of deer in the U.P. for both wolves and hunters.
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