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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
Name of conflict:Indian Nations and Wolf Hunting, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Michigan
Location of conflict:Upper 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 commodities:Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 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.

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Project area:4,144
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:02/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) from United States of America - Supports the wolf hunt
Relevant government actors:Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Michigan Natural Resources Commission
State of Michigan
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
National Wolfcatcher Coalition
Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) (
The United Tribes of Michigan (
Humane Society (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Recreational users
Forms of mobilization:Development 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-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:A 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Flesher, John. "Michigan closer to authorizing wolf hunts." The Oakland Press. (November 29, 2012).
[click to view]

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

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

[3] Pluta, Rick. "Coalition seeks to reverse Michigan's wolf hunt law." Michigan Radio. (January 22, 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]

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

[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]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Tribes and the Michigan Wolf Hunt (May 2013)
[click to view]

Appeals court upholds endangered species protection for Great Lakes gray wolves (August 2017)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2018
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