Sunday, July 27, 2014

Third wolf hunt petition approved, headed to Michigan Legislature

Jul. 26, 2014   |  
Twenty-three wolves were killed during Michigan's first wolf hunt in four decades, which was held late last year.
Twenty-three wolves were killed during Michigan's first wolf hunt in four decades, which was held late last year. / AP


LANSING — A third wolf petition was unanimously approved by the state Board of Canvassers Thursday and is headed to the state Legislature, which could decide its fate or send it to the November ballot, where voters would decide.

Supporters of the wolf hunt needed to collect 258,088 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management turned in 375,475 signatures and the Secretary of State’s Office found that 297,051 of those signatures were valid.


The Legislature has 40 days either to pass the initiative — which was spearheaded by a group supportive of the hunting of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula — come up with a competing proposal, reject it, or do nothing.


If the Legislature passes the initiative — and they’ve already voted twice in the past two years to support a hunt — it automatically becomes law. If they reject it or do nothing, the initiative will appear on the November ballot along with two other anti-wolf hunting proposals that have already been approved for the ballot.


The Legislature is back in session Aug. 13 and could bring the issue up then.



Activists opposed to the wolf hunt have already turned in two petitions. After the first petition was turned in — which would repeal the first law passed by the Legislature in 2012 allowing for a wolf hunt — the Legislature passed another law that circumvented that petition.


The anti-wolf hunt forces have since turned in a second petition to repeal the second wolf hunt law passed by the Legislature. The third wolf hunt ballot question, which supports the hunt, is meant to preempt the second anti-wolf hunt petition. But the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected group, which opposes the hunt, said it hopes the Legislature does nothing and lets the people decide.


“Legislators need to trust the voters who put them in office by allowing a fair vote of the people on this initiative,” said Jill Fritz, director of the group. “They should reject the cynical attempt to get the Legislature to rubber-stamp this measure and undermine the referendum process once again, before the people are even allowed to vote.”


The pro-wolf hunt initiative would give hunting-related decisions to the Natural Resources Commission, which has already approved and set a wolf hunt for three areas in the Upper Peninsula. The first wolf hunt was held in November and December and had a goal of killing 43 of the Upper Peninsula’s population of more than 650 wolves. The hunt resulted in 23 wolves being killed by hunters.


 The anti-wolf hunt forces said they haven’t ruled out filing a lawsuit against the third, pro-hunt petition.

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