(AP File Photo/DNR)
on July 02, 2013
on July 02, 2013
Michigan Wolf Hunting
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected said Tuesday that it has filed petition language with the Secretary of State. If the petition form is approved, the group will begin efforts to collect more than 225,000 voter signatures to place a second measure on the 2014 ballot.
The coalition previously collected more than 250,000 signatures for a separate ballot referendum seeking to block wolf hunting in Michigan. The Board of Canvassers certified those signatures, estimating at least 214,000 were valid.
But legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and signed into law by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder essentially sidestepped the effort by giving the Natural Resources Commission the authority to establish a new game species. The NRC had voted to establish a fall wolf hunt in three areas of the Upper Peninsula and is expected to vote again this month under the new law.
"That bill was deliberately introduced and passed to scuttle our first referendum effort to remove wolves from the valid species list for hunting," said Jill Fritz of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, who is the state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
"We just want Michigan voters to be able to have a say in protecting wildlife, and that was taken away from them. They're going to go out there, collect signatures, and get their voice back."
The old referendum seeks to overturn Public Act 520 of 2012. The new referendum would seek to overturn Public Act 21 of 2013. Both measures could make the ballot, and Fritz said she will encourage voters to reject both laws.
Supporters of a wolf hunt appear equally determined.
They say wolves are causing problems in the Upper Peninsula, killing livestock and pets while becoming increasingly comfortable around humans. State law allows farmers, ranchers and dog owners to kill wolves who attack on their property, but residents say those measures are inadequate.
Some local governments have approved resolutions indicating that "overpopulation of wolves is threatening the tourism, recreation and business industries in the Western U.P.," noting that "this situation has become a public safety issue for our citizens."
Michigan is the sixth state to authorize a wolf hunt since federal protections were removed over the past two years in the western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies, according to the Associated Press.
The Upper Peninsula is home to an estimated 658 wolves -- down from 687 a couple of years ago, but up from roughly 500 in 2008 and approximately 200 in 2000. The state counted just three wolves in 1989.