Hello again NRC I am Gary Gorniak Vice President of The Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance and I am here to talk about the need for wolf management to be implemented this year because of the effects wolves have on other wildlife deer in particular. Wildlife managers in the U.P. seem to insist that the main factor due to low deer numbers are harsh winters. We have had harsh winters in the U.P. for hundreds of years and I will agree that it is a factor. But this time it is not the main factor I have said before the 695 official wolf count in the U.P. is the rock bottom low number not the average, the average number is 1,200 or more. In just this coming spring over 1,700 wolf pups will be born in the U.P. again using the low number. Over 50% of those wolf pups will be dead in 6 months due to starvation an infighting. These wolves have basically exceeded the biological and carrying capacity of the U.P.
Our deer heard in the U.P. is in serious decline, I have talked to many sportsmen that have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours trying to improve our deer herd. I will mention some of the comments along with the names that they graciously gave me permission to use to add creditability to my following statements.
Louie Bennet has been feeding 200-250 deer in the Newberry area for over 25 years 6 years ago he started seeing his deer numbers going down, 2018 he feed 5 deer 2019 he feed zero.
Don Canfeild with the Tahquamenon Sportsmen’s Club has been feeding deer for over 25years spending thousands of dollars per year on deer feed. 8 years ago he was feeding 550-600 deer daily he said the numbers have been dwindling yearly. This year they are feeding 150-200 deer daily.
Mike Taylor of U.P. Whitetails of Marquette county also spend thousands of dollars on deer feed annually. 6-8 years ago they were feeding over 1100 deer daily this year he said they are feeding around 350
George Planck has been feeding deer for over 50 years in the Hulbert area in and around the Happy Hour Bar 6-8 years ago he was feeding 800-1000 deer daily he says every year we are feeding less and less deer, this year he is feeding 120 deer daily. For 25years he has been feeding the deer 70-80 of those big round bails until recently years when the deer numbers started to drop. So far this year he has fed the deer only six bails.
I myself have been deer spotlight surveys in the Brevort area for over 8 years 5-6 years ago I was shining 35-40 deer nightly last year my best night was 5 deer. 2 of the nights I saw zero.
Leo Joutsie has been doing spotlight surveys in the Pickford area for 8 years. 6-8 years ago he was shining 450-500 deer per night. In 2020 his best night was 187
Many smaller feeding locations are telling me the same thing for example, Dr Kirk Schott from Bruce Crossing has been feeding 23-26 deer daily for years. This year his best daily count is 11`
These deer number drops are substantial, I asked every one of them what they felt was the reason for the deer numbers dropping, every one of them without hesitation said wolves. We have wolves all over the place if they are not killing the deer they are running them to death. Where the deer usually should be laying in there deer yards conserving energy to survive the winter they are now getting run to death. We have deer showing up at our feeding stations with portions of their hind quarter missing and parts of their hide ripped off. I really don’t understand how wildlife managers can continue to ignore these sportsmen that have worked hundreds and thousands of hours to promote deer habitat and help survival of the U.P. deer herd. I have never seen the U.P. Sportsmen so upset about any issue as this. They feel that they are being totally ignored by the DNR without giving any reasonable answer to the problem. This problem has been building over the last 5-6 years. Surveys have been completed on this issue with 95% of the U.P. sportsmen are saying we need wolf management badly! Is there a possibility that the DNR can respond to what I have just told ?
You as wildlife managers have the responsibility to manage all wildlife responsibly in the U.P. We as sports men and women of the U.P. love and respect nature and are the true conservationist, we stand ready to work with the DNR and the NRC to manage ALL wildlife responsibly. We need to get the politics out of wildlife management.
That’s where my speech would have ended but due to the events of the past 24 hours I feel compelled to continue. What I have just told about are U.P. sportsmen’s groups that spend thousands of dollars and thousands of man hours building habitat and taking care of the wildlife in the U.P. they are a unique group of people and there are thousands of us across the U.P. even my small group the Straits Area Sportsmen’s club has completed or have ongoing wildlife habitat work to the tune of $120,000.00 and thousands of manhours of labor over the last eight years. And what I just heard is the DNR is not even going to give the U.P. sportsmen’s groups a seat at the table on the biggest issue effecting our wildlife in the U.P.! That is absolutely insane. Again we are the ones that live with the wolves we are the ones that see the damage these wolves are inflicting on our wildlife and we can’t even get a seat at the table next to the animal rights groups that have been seated on the committee? Again that is totally insane!!!
Gary V. Gorniak Vice President,
Upper Peninsula Sportsman’s Alliance