Talk Back: Fork in the Road for Michigan Wolves
Hundreds of you wrote me after I asked your opinion about the road ahead in Michigan, where the state legislature is hell bent on allowing trophy hunters and pelt trappers to kill wolves. All but two of you urged The HSUS to pursue a second referendum campaign to block hunting of wolves.
Let me remind you of the details. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes and handed off management responsibility to the states. State wildlife agencies in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin quickly took steps to open up hunting and trapping seasons, with Michigan lawmakers passing a bill in December 2012 to give the Natural Resources Commission the go-ahead for a fall 2013 season.
The HSUS and pro-wolf organizations, part of a broad coalition that also included Indian tribes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, launched a referendum drive, and within 67 days those petitioners collected more than a quarter million signatures of registered voters who believe it is cruel and premature to open a season. Yesterday, the Michigan secretary of state certified the petition and approved the referendum for the November 2014 ballot, staying the December 2012 law and allowing voters to nullify it by voting against a wolf season 18 months from now.
But in between the signature submission date of March 27th and yesterday’s certification, state lawmakers rammed through a second law in an attempt to subvert the referendum and make it moot. Their second measure, SB 288, gives authority to the NRC to open hunting and trapping seasons on any protected species, except mourning doves.
We believe the vote of the people on the original referendum in November 2014 should be binding, and that the NRC and the Michigan legislature should heed the will of the state’s citizenry. But, as a legal matter, they may not be bound to follow the vote. Thus, we are faced with the idea of launching a second referendum, to send an unmistakable signal about the legislature’s abuse of power and the people’s wish to keep Michigan wolves protected. We are still getting feedback from our supporters and donors, but here is a sampling of your opinion:
It is absolutely important to mount another effort to protect wolves and to have the rights of American citizens respected. Legislators need to be reminded that they work for ALL of us, rather than exclusively for a handful of special interest groups who have no concern for their fellow citizens or wildlife.
Absolutely pursue this again! This is beyond the wolf hunting issue now, our democratic rights are being endangered... and we are furious. We were volunteers and collected 3,175 signatures from 67 counties in Michigan and 10 counties in the Upper Peninsula. People wished to vote on this issue and now that’s been taken away from us.
- Judy and Curt Brock, Northville, MI
First, a most heartfelt and sincere thanks for the effort mounted by you and The HSUS. I live in Michigan. My home is downstate in a rural area, but I kayak and camp in the Upper Peninsula, which is the home of our beleaguered wolves. I respect living near wild animals, and I like and respect my fellow citizens in the U.P. I know a number of responsible hunters who are appalled at the idea of a wolf hunt. I have followed the issue of the wolf as a game animal and the important need to allow the citizens' right to petition via ballot referendum, which was cynically circumvented. We need, and must, fight back on all these issues. WE ARE FIRED UP & READY TO GO! I pledge my support and my actions to circulate a second round of petitions.
- Deborah de Lorenzo, Superior Twp MI
This fight has become more than just a fight for wolves, but a fight for all wildlife and for democracy. We cannot let the Michigan legislature think that every time they want to silence the will of the voters that they can just pass new bills to circumvent them.
- Don Hughes
I am very angry at what the Michigan governor and state legislature have done signing SB 288 into law. They show a lack of compassion for wolves in addition to their lack of regard for the more than a quarter of a million of us who signed the petition, and for those who worked with great dedication to collect the signatures. They cheated so they could have a wolf execution season outside the oversight of voters.
- Jenny Sykora
In regards to mounting the second wave of protests against killing these majestic animals, I do believe we have to continue doing everything in our power, since they cannot speak for themselves. It does get incredibly frustrating working with some of these organizations & politicians who do not listen to what the people are screaming for. Some of these horrors & injustices stay in my mind for what seems like an eternity, until I hear we have made a difference, and there are those of us who will continue the fight.
- Jody Armstrong, Pollock Pines, CA
I am in awe of your ability to not tire in the wake of defeat such as this! You have my support; monetarily, emotionally, and energetically. I pray for our majestic wolves consistently, as well as all other sentient beings that share this planet we live on. While it may appear daunting and impossible, I am a staunch believer in the power of people banding together for a cause (even if that means multiple times). I feel that we (HSUS and supporters) cannot afford to back down and sit this one out.
- Stacey Bolar
I wholeheartedly support and encourage you and The HSUS to mount another initiative and do everything possible to protect wolves. I do not live in Michigan, I live in Montana, where wolves have been hunted and trapped for 3 years now. It is horrible what our FWP is allowing to happen to this keystone species. I do, however, have many friends in the great state of Michigan who not only hit the pavement to help gather signatures, but most certainly will do the same again. I even sent financial contributions to help with their efforts, and will do so again.
- April Lane, Whitefish, MT