During the lame duck session, Michigan's Governor Snyder signed into law, Public Act 520, designating the wolf a game animal.
A referendum drive was launched and signatures were gathered in every Michigan county by registered Michigan voters. Last week, the Secretary of State certified that far more than the required 161,000 signatures were obtained and approved the referendum for the November 2014 ballot suspending the implementation of Public Act 520 until voters decide.
The referendum process does not threaten anyone's right to hunt, fish or trap. The ballot initiative only applies to the designation of the wolf as a game animal. Wolves responsible for depredations and those that become habituated to humans can still be killed. Landowners can still be issued permits to kill wolves on their property suspected of killing dogs or livestock.
Yet, lawmakers found a way around the petition drive by passing a second law. Governor Snyder signed Public Act 21 into effect May 8, 2013. Under this law, the Natural Resource Commission can designate any species, except mourning doves, livestock and domestic animals as a game animal and authorize a hunting/trapping season for that species.
Top DNR officials are political appointees and the Natural Resource Commission is a politically appointed body that is only required to use science to the "greatest extent practicable." Recently, the NRC voted 6-1 to establish a wolf hunting/trapping season including the trapping of wolves on public lands which was not recommended by DNR biologists.
The true motive for Public Act 21 has nothing to do with science. Its passage was promoted by outside interest groups and its purpose is to render the November 2014 vote meaningless. Further, NRC decisions cannot be challenged through the veto referendum process. Therefore, Public Act 21 takes away the right of the people afforded us under the State Constitution.
Public Act 21 is not just about wolves, it is an assault against the democratic process. Wildlife belongs to all of us. The NRC should not intervene and they should allow voters to decide whether the wolf should be hunted and trapped as a game species which will be on the November 2014 ballot.
The price of inaction is high. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org urge the NRC to delay designating the wolf a game animal. Don't silence the voices of Michigan voters.
For more information visit www.wolfwatcher.org
National Wolfwatcher Coalition