Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ballot Campaign Launched to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected

January 14, 2013
Wayne Pacelle

Last year was the worst year for wolves in half a century – with Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming opening up trophy hunting and sport trapping seasons and an expansion of those activities in Idaho and Montana, on top of the standard fare of aerial gunning, trapping and shooting of wolves in Alaska. In the waning days of the Michigan legislature’s lame duck session, lawmakers authorized declaring the wolf as a game species, setting it up to become the seventh state with a wolf hunting and trapping program in the fall of 2013.

270x240 wolf gray istockphotoIn 2013, however, we are hoping to turn the fortunes of wolves around. Today we announce with our coalition partners the launch of a referendum campaign in Michigan to nullify the legislature’s ill-considered action, in order to maintain protections for wolves there. We helped lead an effort seven years ago to restore protections for mourning doves, and voters in the Wolverine State responded by favoring the measure in every county. There are only about 700 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and until 2012, they had been protected under the terms of the Endangered Species Act for nearly 40 years.

We are joined in this effort by local humane societies, environmental and conservation groups, Native American tribes, and leading wolf scientists, who decry the idea of a trophy hunt at this time. Rolf Peterson, Ph.D., chair of the federally-appointed Recovery Team for the Gray Wolf, Eastern Population, and a research professor at Michigan Technological University, told the legislature that “[human-wolf] conflicts can already be managed under existing state law, which allows for lethal control of individual wolves that are perceived to threaten human life and property.” He added, “wolves provide a firewall against new diseases in deer,” such as Chronic Wasting Disease. Peterson has studied wolf-prey population dynamics for more than 40 years at Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on wolves, specifically the wolves of Michigan.

Other scientists also note that wolves have had a beneficial “cascade effect” on animal populations in their ecosystems, limiting populations of deer and other ungulates. This reduces impacts on forest vegetation and crops, and on automobile collisions with wildlife.

And let’s remember, nobody eats wolves. Killing them is more about securing a trophy or a pelt, and more specifically, bragging rights. That’s an important distinction, since most hunting involves killing to consume meat. But that’s not at work here, and we expect to align with many hunters who believe in the principles of full use of an animal they kill.

So when you roll it all up, wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan is unnecessary, inhumane and detrimental to farmers, motorists, tourists and others who value wolves.

If you are a Michigan resident, we need your help on the ground. We need volunteer petitioners to help us amass the 225,000 signatures in about 70 days – a tall order indeed. If we secure the signatures, it will put a hold on the legislature’s wolf hunting bill, pending a statewide vote by Michigan citizens. Please go to keepwolvesprotected.org to help us in this critical campaign.
Paid for with regulated funds by the committee to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, 5859 W. Saginaw Hwy. #273, Lansing, MI 48917.