Indian Nations and Wolf Hunting, USA

Citizens groups and tribes continue to fight against legislation that would allow a wolf hunting season in Michigan, citing both scientific and cultural reasons for their position.


Gray wolves are currently listed as an endangered species under Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once wolves are removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species, states and tribes would have full management authority for wolves. There’s a conflict, however, between continued protection of wolves and the institution of a wolf management plan.

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Basic Data
NameIndian Nations and Wolf Hunting, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteUpper Peninsula, Michigan
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other
Specific CommoditiesLive Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has tried four times in the last 15 years to delist Great Lakes gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. The courts have reversed each attempt.

There are about 600 wolves populating Michigan's Upper Peninsula, while there are more than 1,000 in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Michigan held its controversial first, firearm-only wolf hunt over a 46 day period in November and December 2013, with hunters killing 23 wolves in designated areas of the U.P.
Project Area (in hectares)4,144
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date02/01/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesMichigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) from United States of America - Supports the wolf hunt
Relevant government actorsMichigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan Natural Resources Commission

State of Michigan

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLittle River Band of Ottawa Indians

National Wolfcatcher Coalition

Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) (

The United Tribes of Michigan (

Humane Society (
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Recreational users
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesA Michigan senator suggested limiting a wolf hunt to just a few counties in the western Upper Peninsula where the problems have been most severe.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has suggested that wolves be downlisted instead of delisted from the U.S. Endangered Species List. This would allow for lethal control of problem wolves, but not game season hunting
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.This issue is still in the courts being appealed by both sides. While the wolf remains on the federally endangered species list, there is very little the state can do to open up hunting of wolves. In the meantime, indian tribes and environmental groups are fighting to make sure there cannot be a wolf hunt, and that wolves will remain protected even if they are taken off the list.
Sources and Materials

[2] Flesher, John. "Michigan closer to authorizing wolf hunts." The Oakland Press. (November 29, 2012).
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[3] Pluta, Rick. "Coalition seeks to reverse Michigan's wolf hunt law." Michigan Radio. (January 22, 2013).
[click to view]

[1] U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Final Environmental Assessment for the Management of Wolf Conflicts and Depredating Wolves in Michigan." May 2006
[click to view]

[4] Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "2007 Inland Consent Decree."
[click to view]

[5] Pluta, Rick. "American Indian Tribes To Challenge Michigan Wolf Hunt." Public Radio from Michigan State University. (June 3, 2013)
[click to view]

[6] "Michigan Indian Tribal Leaders speak out against Michigan's approval of a wolf hunt." White Wolf Pack. May 2013.
[click to view]

[9] Williams, Rebecca. "Tribes opposed to possibility of Michigan wolf hunting season." Michigan Radio. (November 13, 2012).
[click to view]

[7] Ellison, Garret. "Michigan wolf hunting law ruled unconstitutional by appeals court." MLive. (November 23, 2016).
[click to view]

[8] Pacelle, Wayne. "Indian Tribes, Others Stand up for Wolves." The Humane Society of the United States. (February 27, 2015).
[click to view]

[10]. Wagner, S. C. (2010) Keystone Species. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):51
[click to view]

Lute et al. "Toward improving the effectiveness of wolf management approaches in Michigan: insights from a 2010 statewide survey." February 2012
[click to view]


Appeals court upholds endangered species protection for Great Lakes gray wolves (August 2017)
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Tribes and the Michigan Wolf Hunt (May 2013)
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Other Documents

Wolf hunt Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. The wolf was the second recorded kill in the Michigan's first wolf hunt.
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Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2018