Last December Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that designated wolves as a game animal and turned wolf management over to the state’s Natural Resource Commission (NRC).
After 50 years of protection, the population is still estimated to be fewer than 700 and wolf advocates began the fight to keep them from being hunted and trapped with a new approach – bringing the issue to the voters.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition of conservation groups, animal welfare organizations, wildlife professionals, veterinarians, hunters, ranchers, several American Indian tribes and other residents turned in 253,705 signatures in March to get the issue on the November 2014 ballot, surpassing the required number by a long shot.
Unfortunately, a Senate bill (S.B. 288) that would allow the NRC to independently designate animals as a game species and clear the way for hunting and trapping in the Upper Peninsula this fall was fast-tracked and has gone to the governor for a signature before the signatures collected by voters have even been certified. Because whatever the NRC does cannot be overturned by a referendum. If he signs it voters will have no say in what happens next.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder intends on signing the bill, but wolf advocates are still calling for him to veto it.
“Every indication is that this bill was introduced for one reason and one reason only ― to circumvent the ballot referendum we’re pursuing,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “There is absolutely no reason to believe the NRC is not going to take advantage of that the first opportunity they get to declare wolves a game species on their own, to vote in that hunting and trapping season and start killing wolves as soon as they are able.”
The anti-wolf crowd is supporting the bill under the premise that they pose a threat to people, pets and livestock, but under current laws it’s already legal to kill wolves to protect livestock and pets. Others are arguing that no one should be allowed to bring this issue to voters because voters gave the NRC sole authority to set wildlife management policies under Proposal G in 1996.
The NRC is expected to meet next week to approve the wolf hunting season proposed by the Department of Natural Resources.
“Now is the time for Governor Snyder to stand up for the voters of Michigan, to uphold our fundamental democratic principles, and veto SB 288. The legislature wants to silence the voice of Michigan voters, circumvent the democratic process, and nullify the more than 255,000 signatures submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office. We encourage everyone who values their right to vote, and those who want to protect wolves from needless hunting and trapping, to contact Governor Snyder and tell him to veto SB 288,” said Fritz in a statement.
Please sign and share the petition asking the governor to respect the democratic process and keep wolves protected.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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