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May 10, 2013

A Second Round for Wolves?

As we await final action from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on the fate of the state’s awful and overreaching ag-gag bill (which the state’s attorney general yesterday called “constitutionally suspect” in a formal written opinion), Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder late this week took an extraordinarily hostile action on another bill we have a great interest in. He signed a bill pushed by state Sen. Tom Casperson that not only seeks to undercut the petition drive we and our partners launched to block wolf hunting, but also gives unilateral authority to the seven-member Natural Resources Commission to remove just about any species in Michigan from the protected list and open a trophy hunting or trapping season on them.

Second round for wolves?
iStockphoto

In a coordinated one-two punch against wolves and other wildlife in the state, the NRC approved a fall wolf hunting season just hours after Snyder signed the bill into law. Trophy hunters and trappers will be allowed to kill about 43 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and that figure certainly would have been higher but for our intense scrutiny of the plan to kill members of this keystone species. There are only about 650 wolves in the entire state, and they were just removed from the federal list of species threatened with extinction, after decades of protection.

Our original wolf protection referendum – which we submitted at the end of March with more than 253,000 signatures – should be certified for the ballot, and it will indeed appear on the November 2014 ballot. We believe that if voters decide to favor our position on the ballot measure to reject the original wolf hunting law that the legislature passed, that the NRC should honor the wishes of the people and terminate a hunt. 

But it’s impossible to know how the NRC will react to our winning the 2014 ballot fight. The question now is, do we mount a second referendum campaign to nullify the law that Snyder signed and quash their attempt to kill perhaps thousands of wolves over the next decade and turn back their larger, more dangerous plan to consolidate all authority over hunting programs in the hands of a few bureaucrats appointed by the governor?

I am outraged about the governor’s action, and the actions of an arrogant legislature, which thumbed its nose at the people, and has tried to subvert a constitutionally guaranteed right to decide issues directly. But I’d like your opinions. Write me and let me know if you think we should mount a second effort to protect the wolves and to protect the right of the citizens to more directly control decisions related to wildlife protection.

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