Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stop the Michigan wolf hunt and preserve democracy


This November, Michigan voters will have the opportunity to overturn legislation allowing the state's small, fragile wolf population to be hunted for trophies.

Michigan wolves were on the endangered species list for more than 50 years. The federal government removed these protections in 2012. Today, there are reportedly only 636 wolves left in the state.
Hunters in other Midwestern states have used guns, steel-jawed leg-hold traps and dogs to kill wolves, purely for the thrill of the chase — and that could be in store for Michigan wolves, too, unless citizens vote down two referendums on this November's ballot.

Responsible hunters eat what they kill. No one eats wolves.

This is more than a fight over the future of wolves in Michigan. The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 21 of 2013, allowing the politically appointed Natural Resource Commission to add wolves to the list of "game species" and open a wolf hunt. This bill was passed for the sole reason of circumventing a referendum vote by Michigan citizens on another wolf-hunting law.

With the passage of PA 21, the longstanding constitutional right of the people of Michigan to voice their opinion on what happens to the state's wildlife was taken away.

That's why a group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, composed of conservation groups, Native American tribes, wildlife scientists, faith groups and other concerned Michigan citizens, collected almost 230,000 signatures to place a referendum of PA 21 on the November ballot.

This is one of two referendums, which will be called Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 on the ballot, designed to ensure that Michigan voters have the right to cast their vote to protect wolves and other wildlife. Proposal 2 is a referendum on Public Act 520, which established the first wolf hunt season back in 2012.

By voting "no" on both Proposals 1 and 2, Michigan voters are not only saving wolves; they are also protecting their democratic rights. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will also sue to block a pro-wolf hunting initiative passed by the Legislature without allowing the residents of Michigan to vote on it. We believe this law violates Michigan's Constitution.

There is no scientific basis for the wolf hunt. The Michigan Legislature first authorized a wolf hunt based on fabricated stories about human-wolf encounters. By challenging the Natural Resource Commission's authority to open the hunt, hundreds of wolves have been saved by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

Letting the people of Michigan vote on this issue is the best way to protect wildlife. Don't let private-interest groups determine the fate of Michigan's wolves. Vote no on Proposals 1 and 2 in November. Not only will your voice be heard, but you will give a voice to the iconic, majestic wolf.

Cathy Kangas is a member of the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States.

source