Jeff Powell checks his wolf into the DNR station at Wakefield Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. The wolf was the second recorded kill in the Michigan's first wolf hunt. Powell is from Elkton. Cory Morse
on October 31, 2014
YES OR NO? Casting two "no" votes would repeal both wolf hunting laws, which were suspended after a group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected launched two separate petition drives and collected enough signatures to put the referendums on the ballot. Two "yes" votes would reinstate both laws and immediately make wolf hunting legal again.
A NEWER LAW: A separate group called Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management used a petition drive for citizen-initiated legislation that the Republican-led Legislature approved in August. The newer law, which affirms the authority of the NRC to establish wolf hunting seasons, is set to take effect in March or April.
WILL YOUR VOTE MATTER? Depends who you ask. Wolf hunt opponents say they plan to challenge the newer law in court and argue the ballot proposals remain an important step in stopping future hunts. Wolf hunt supporters say the proposals won’t have any practical affect and will function as little more than an exit poll. At the very least, you can voice your support or displeasure.
ASIAN CARP IMMUNITY: The newest wolf hunt law contains a $1 million appropriation to fight Asian Carp, which makes it immune to voter referendum under the current interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Two other petition drives would have extended the power of referendums to bills with appropriations, but both efforts fell short.
THE MONEY: Keep Michigan Wolves protected has raised more than $2 million in the past two years and is running television commercials ahead of the election. The group is largely funded by the Humane Society of the United States. Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management raised around $810,000 for its petition drive, mostly from hunting groups, but isn’t spending much to fight the ballot proposals.
THE NUMBERS: There are about 636 grey wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, up from just six in the 1970s. Hunting advocates argue the population warrants stronger management to reduce conflicts with livestock and comfort levels around humans. Opponents argue that hunting could halt recovery of a species only a few years removed from endangered status and say reported conflicts are overblown but can be managed without a hunt.
JUSTIFICATION: An MLive.com investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt. The farmer in question ended up shutting down his main farm after he was charged with animal cruelty, but attacks have continued on other farms, and supporters say a hunt is still justified.
PUBLIC INPUT: Beyond wolf hunting, ballot proposal backers say the fight is about voting rights. When a petition drive was used to challenge the first wolf hunt law, the state Legislature passed a second one. When that one was suspended too, hunting advocates used the petition process themselves and lawmakers approved a third law despite pending ballot proposals. Supporters argue the NRC — not the public — should decide whether wolf hunting should continue.