Wolf management issues persist
The saga over managing Michigan’s growing wolf population continues.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a puppet group of the the Humane Society of the United States, collected enough signatures to put wolf management in Michigan up for a public vote in 2014. These animal-rightists prefer to manage the state’s largest predator through 30-second sound bites and TV commercials than to allow professional biologists to use proven techniques – including, but not limited to hunting and trapping. Let’s face it, despite the rosy picture some conjure up of cuddly little wolves, the state wolf population can not continue to grow unchecked. Neither can our deer population, bear population, coyote population or any other game species we hope to maintain in safe, healthy numbers.
But if the animal rightists can bring the issues to a public vote they can paint whatever bleak picture they want. We saw that deception in 1996 during the HSUS’s campaign to derail bear management in Michigan and again in 2004 during the anti-dove hunting campaign – their deceptive claims that hunters just wanted to shoot doves for target practice and would leave dead birds in the field to rot still sticks in my craw!
Without a multi-million dollar media campaign to counter that deceit through the purchase of equal TV and radio time – which would inevitably come from sportsmen’s pockets – the general public has nothing else to base its decision on.
The state developed a wolf management plan that calls for hunters to remove just 43 wolves from a population of at least 658. They would be killed by hunters in a fall hunt from three specific areas of the Upper Peninsula where wolf/human conflicts and livestock and pet depredation incidents persist, despite the use of nonlethal and lethal control measures. That’s hardly an attempt to slaughter wolves and send them back to the endangered species list, a claim that was used by some signature gatherers to persuade residents to sign the petition to put the issue on the ballot.
In Michigan, residents can repeal legislation through a voter referendum (public vote), as long as the legislation does not include an appropriation (money). What the group wants to overturn through a referendum is the legislation approved last year that put wolves on Michigan’s list of game species, which would allow professional game managers to use hunting and trapping as management tools.
Once enough signatures were collected to move a public vote forward, the Republican-led state legislature quickly approved additional legislation that shares the ability to put a species on the game list with the state Natural Resources Commission. So, if the referendum succeeds in duping uneducated residents of the state to repeal the law that put wolves on the game list, the commission could immediately put wolves back on the list and move forward with management plans.
NRC action can not be overturned by a public vote.
Now Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is considering if it wants to up the ante and again attempt to gather enough signatures to attempt to repeal the newest legislation.
Wolf management in Michigan appears to be a long way from being settled.