April 10, 2013
I’ve written multiple times about the efforts of agribusiness interests to make it a crime to take photos or video footage of animals on factory farms, puppy mills, or even a horse stable—the so-called “ag-gag” bills, introduced in 12 states this year. Now, coming out of Michigan, we have a different kind of power grab: Just two weeks after citizens gathered more than a quarter million signatures to nullify an act of the legislature to authorize wolf hunting and trapping, the leading anti-wolf legislator in the state has proposed a new bill that would go even further and attempt to derail the people’s referendum.
Sen. Tom Casperson’s bill, S.B. 288, is so radical and far-reaching that it would also enable the repeal of one of the most popular ballot measures in Michigan history: the measure to bar the target shooting of mourning doves. Voters rejected mourning dove hunting in a landslide vote in 2006, with all 83 counties and all 110 House and 38 Senate districts, including Sen. Casperson’s, siding with the idea of dove protection.
Instead of accepting that 2006 landslide vote on doves and the outpouring of grassroots support for wolf protection, Sen. Casperson’s bill would allow the unelected, seven-member Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add animals to the list of game species to be hunted for sport or trophies, at any time and without public input.
So hungry to wipe out wolves, these politicians are even diluting their own power to pass game species policy by granting this authority to a handful of political appointees, who are accountable to no one. If passed, S.B. 288 means that this unelected panel could ignore the will of the people, and allow wolf hunting or dove hunting, regardless of what the voters say, or have said, on these matters.
And it won’t stop there. Sandhill cranes and other rare wildlife species—and perhaps even feral cats, as was proposed in neighboring Wisconsin—could be listed by the hunter-dominated commission as game animals under S.B. 288.
S.B. 288 is a short-sighted and unprecedented usurpation of power. Every Michigan resident should pick up the phone and tell their legislators to reject this attack on Michigan voters and on the democratic process. Click here to look up your Michigan state legislator's name and phone number. Then, click here to send a follow-up message reiterating your opposition to this bill.