Hunters, tribal leaders, animal welfare and environmental groups support referendum campaign to stop trophy hunting of wolves
LANSING, Mich. – Keep Michigan Wolves Protected announced a broad-based steering committee today in its referendum campaign to maintain the prohibition on trophy hunting and commercial trapping of the state’s small wolf population.
“Wolves are only now starting to recover,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The Humane Society of the United States, said at a Capitol news conference. “It’s not right to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction only to turn around and allow them to be killed for sport.”
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is a coalition of animal welfare organizations, conservation groups, Native American tribes and religious leaders who are working to gather 225,000 signatures of Michigan voters by late March to qualify for the November 2014 general election ballot. The coalition is gathering signatures in response to the Michigan legislature’s last-minute approval of a bill during the lame-duck session that allows for the trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Steering Committee members announced today:
Aaron A. Payment, tribal chairperson, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “We support the effort to stop the planned killing of wolves in Michigan,” he said. “This matter is all about the wolves and does not involve Michigan’s long tradition of hunting. American Indians are proud hunters for sustenance and not sport. A sacred animal to Native Americans, the wolf is just making a comeback and with so few in numbers, there is no rational justification for killing wolves.”
George F. Schultz, member of Hunters to Keep Wolves Protected. “I've been hunting deer, ducks, geese, and pheasants here in Michigan for over 50 years,” he said. “Traditional hunters hunt for food and do not waste what we take. But no one eats a wolf and that's just not right. It doesn't respect or represent our traditional hunting heritage here in Michigan.”
Aaron Winters, executive director for Kalamazoo Humane Society. “Kalamazoo Humane Society has always opposed gratuitous and inhumane killing of animals,” he said. “That’s why we strongly back this referendum to prevent the use of cruel and reckless trapping and trophy hunting of the small population of wolves in our state.”
Vicki Deisner, state legislative director for the Midwest region of ASPCA. “The gray wolf of Michigan was previously on the brink of extinction, and while there has been some improvement, the wolves have not fully recovered, occupying only 5 percent of their historic range,” she said. “Instituting a wolf hunting season, which includes not only shooting, but also cruelly trapping and using packs of dogs to kill these animals, will undermine the long-term survival of the wolf population, reversing the progress that has been made to protect these wolves.”
James N. Bull, Ph.D., board member of the Detroit Audubon Society.“Detroit Audubon Society has supported control of mute swans and white-tailed deer that cause problems and we support the existing mechanisms already in place for dealing with problem wolves,” he said. “We have hunters in our ranks, but we are opposed to wolf hunting. Why? Because it is unnecessary. Ecological research has clearly demonstrated that prey populations exert more control on predator populations than the other way around. Killing wolves, which are highly social animals, could upset pack structure. Wolves are an important part of ecological systems and have been protected for over 50 years. There is no compelling reason to alter that protection.”
It’s already legal in Michigan to kill wolves to protect livestock or dogs. Allowing the killing of wolves just for sport is unnecessary and will accomplish nothing. People don’t eat wolves, and it’s just pointless trophy hunting for no good purpose. Wolf hunting may involve especially cruel and unfair practices, such as painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves.
On Jan. 17, the State Board of Canvassers approved petition language to stop wolf hunting. Grassroots organizing meetings are being held across the state to train volunteers to gather petition signatures. For a listing of other endorsements, more information on Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and to volunteer, visit keepwolvesprotected.com.
Keep Wolves Protected is endorsed by a number of organizations and citizens including: