Proposal 1 would designate wolves as game species, authorize the first wolf hunting season, allow the state Natural Resources Commission to schedule further annual wolf hunting seasons, create a Wolf Management Advisory Council, and would establish licensing and penalties for lawful and unlawful hunters of wolves.
Proposal 2 would deal with broader hunting measures as well as the regulation of hunting wolves. The proposal would allow the state NRC to decide what animals are game and when they can be hunted without legislative action, would keep the current designation of wolves as game and allow the NRC to designate wolf hunting season, grant the state legislature sole power over removing a species from the list of game animals, would eliminate the one dollar licensing fee for military personnel inside or outside of Michigan, and would give the NRC sole power over the regulation of fishing.
The pending proposals have caused the NRC to cancel this year’s wolf hunt; the first organized hunt of wolves in Michigan was held last year. Even if the proposals pass, the NRC would not have enough time to establish the wolf hunt for this year.
Last year’s hunting season, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, was the first in 40 years. The hunt ended up with 22 wolves killed in the Upper Peninsula, a little more than half of the state’s goal of 43. The wolf hunt allows UP residents to kill wolves that, to them, pose a threat to livestock, pets and other game animals.
Even if these proposals are refused, regulations are in place to allow the killing of wolves in cases of attack, and permits can be issued to farmers suffering depredation by the wolves.
Furthermore, this summer Michigan lawmakers approved a third measure, separate of acts 520 and 21, that gives the NRC jurisdiction over deciding about wolf hunts. That law may make any protest vote merely symbolic- even if wolves are no longer a game species, the NRC would be able to have wolf hunts in the UP and elsewhere without them being game otherwise. The law is currently frozen until Nov. 4, when the election will decide any further broadening of the status of wolves in the state.
The campaign for these proposals has largely been driven by the anti-hunting side, where Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has launched an aggressive campaign against what they see as an NRC power grab and against hunts they see as unnecessary. The pro-hunting coalition “doesn’t plan to spend money campaigning against the two wolf referendums” according to the Detroit News.
Featured image from USFWS Midwest.