Wolf - Western Great Lakes
Midwest Region


Map of Region 3 Minnesota Wisconsin Michigan


Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Archived Information - Control of Depredating Wolves in Michigan:

Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Environmental Assessment: Management of Wolf Conflicts and Depredating Wolves in Michigan


Gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations in North America, including the wolf population in Michigan, have undergone a dramatic recovery in recent years due to protection from persecution. However, the combination of an increasing Michigan wolf population, human encroachment on wild habitats and conversion of natural landscapes to agricultural and urban environments has led to increased conflicts between wolves and humans. Conflicts with wolves include predation on livestock and pets, and risks to human safety from potentially hazardous or threatening wolves. Management of conflicts with wolves is addressed in the Michigan Gray Wolf Recovery and Management Plan (MGWRMP; MDNR 1997) and in the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan (USFWS 1992). Prompt, professional management of damage and conflicts with wolves is an important component of wolf recovery efforts because it facilitates local public acceptance and tolerance of wolves (Fritts 1993, Mech 1995, MDNR 1997, 50 CFR 17.40(o)). The United Stated Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Services (WS) and the United States Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have prepared an environmental assessment (EA) evaluating ways by which the agencies may work together to resolve conflicts with wolves in Michigan. The EA documented the need for wolf damage management (WDM) in Michigan and assessed potential impacts on the human environment from various alternatives for responding to wolf damage problems in Michigan including the USFWS’ issuance of permits and establishment of Special rules allowing the lethal removal of wolves for WDM under authorities in Sections 4(d) and 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act. The EA analyzed the potential environmental and social effects of alternatives for protecting domestic animals and human safety on private and public lands throughout the State.


WS was the lead agency in the preparation of the EA, and the USFWS was a cooperating agency The MDNR and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) were consulting agencies in the production of the EA. The USFWS has the primary statutory authority, under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), for managing federally protected threatened or endangered species including wolves. While wolves are federally protected as an Endangered or Threatened species, permits or special 4(d) rules must be issued by the USFWS before select non-lethal (aversive conditioning and non-lethal projectiles) and all lethal WDM techniques may be used. WS is the Federal program authorized by law to provide Federal assistance with the reduction of damage caused by wildlife. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides for the control, management, restoration, conservation and regulation of birds, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state. The Tribes exercise similar authority on tribal lands. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) participates in wildlife management and represents tribal interests in wildlife management on lands in the ceded territories.


The agencies prepared the EA to assist in planning WDM activities; to clearly communicate with the public the analysis of cumulative effects for a number of issues of concern in relation to alternative means of meeting needs for such management in the State, including the potential cumulative impacts on wolves and other wildlife species; and to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The analysis in the EA covers current and future WDM actions by WS, the USFWS, and the MDNR while wolves are federally protected under the ESA and WS’ actions once wolves are removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. Comments from the public involvement processes for the EA and permit application were reviewed for substantive issues and alternatives which were considered in developing this decision (Chapter 6 of the EA).


The proposed action (EA Alternative 2) of WS and the USFWS is to permit and conduct an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM) program for wolves on public and private lands in Michigan. The IWDM approach, commonly known as Integrated Pest Management (WS Directive 2.105) involves use and recommendation of a combination of methods to reduce damage. Wolf damage and conflict management is not based on punishing offending animals but as one means of reducing damage and is used as part of the WS Decision Model (Slate et al. 1992, USDA 1997 revised, WS Directive 2.201). The MDNR, organizations, associations, groups, and individuals have requested USFWS and WS assistance with the management of wolf conflicts and wolf damage in Michigan. All wolf damage management activities would be conducted in compliance with relevant laws, regulations, policies, orders and procedures, including the Endangered Species Act of 1973.


Wildlife Services (APHIS-USDA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each signed a Finding of No Significant Impact.

PDF of Complete FONSI signed by Wildlife Services (10 pages)
PDF of Complete FONSI signed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (10 pages)


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Last updated: September 12, 2016