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March 27, 2013

Turning Things Around for Wolves

The HSUS has drawn a line in the sand – no trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan. 

Today, together with other members of a broad coalition of organizations, The HSUS submitted 253,705 signatures in support of a referendum to nullify the Michigan legislature’s December 2012 act to reclassify wolves as a game species, which is a pretext for setting up a trophy hunting and commercial trapping season. If the state certifies the petition – as it should, since petitioners collected well in excess of the 161,000 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot – it will suspend the wolf hunting law and block hunting seasons this year and next. There’ll be a statewide vote on the issue then, and if Michigan residents reject the idea of wolf hunting by casting “no” votes, then we can make that protection of wolves indefinite.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected
Volunteers and members of the Keep Michigan Wolves
Protected campaign at the state capital with the 253,705
signatures they collected in only 67 days.

I wrote earlier this year that 2012 was the worst year for wolves in the United States in decades – with ruthless sport hunting programs conducted in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, often involving hound hunting of wolves, steel-jawed leghold traps, and other inhumane and unsporting practices. We at The HSUS decided to implement a plan to turn it around with a series of lawsuits and our Michigan campaign, designed to show politicians everywhere that Americans value wolves and don’t think they should be killed for frivolous purposes.

In 2006, we blocked the shooting of mourning doves in Michigan, preserving their long-standing protected status in the state. Now we want to do that for wolves, who have not been hunted in Michigan in decades and are only beginning to recover from the brink of extinction. We and our coalition partners will have to conduct a sophisticated public-relations campaign to win that vote in a November 2014 vote, but we’ve taken a big and necessary step today by submitting these petitions, with so many Michigan voter signatures in support.

My thanks to the 2,000 Michigan volunteers who braved cold, ice and snow during these last 67 days to collect signatures from registered voters. We amassed signatures in every one of the state’s 83 counties, demonstrating support for wolf protection from every corner of the state, from Detroit to Iron Mountain. I am quite sure that every one of them had in mind the notion that killing wolves just for bragging rights or for the pelt or trophy is unacceptable and inhumane.

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