Michigan Newspapers Urge Lawmakers to Allow Voters to Settle Debate on Wolf Hunt

 LANSING, MI - Three major newspaper groups - the Lansing State Journal, Battle Creek Enquirer and the statewide MLive Media Group - have urged the legislature to allow voters to determine the fate of wolf hunting in Michigan. In recent editorials, all three asked the legislature to send to the November 4th ballot an initiative giving the Natural Resources Commission authority to designate wolves and other protected species as game. The initiative would join two other referendums already on the ballot to overturn laws allowing wolf hunting. Conversely, there has been no editorial support for the initiative, which was put forth by a group called “Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management.”

“When lawmakers return to Lansing on Wednesday, they’ll have an opportunity to restore respect for the democratic process by rejecting an initiative put forth by the pro-wolf-hunting group Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “This initiative is a thinly-veiled attempt to circumvent nearly one-half million Michigan residents who signed petitions during two referendum campaigns to stop wolf hunting.”
 
The Lansing State Journal said on August 10, 2014: “The constitution allows the Legislature to act, but in this case it would be wise for lawmakers to send the question directly to the ballot. Both sides have demonstrated formidable public support; both sides have worked the petition powers in the constitution to advantage. That’s not uncommon. It happened in 2012 with six ballot proposals, several funded by special interest groups, all of which got defeated. But the current Legislature — abetted by special interests — has been particularly quick to pass laws to prevent voters from having a say. They did it with Michigan’s minimum wage, boosting it to $9.25 for 2018, in part to block a ballot proposal that would have taken it above $10. By blocking not one but two efforts to refer legislation to voters, lawmakers would send a bad signal. Let voters spend the next three months considering the merits of the proposals. In 2012, voters were discerning. Given the chance, they will be so again.” The full editorial is at
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20140809/OPINION01/308090021/Editorial-Send-hunting-wolf-proposals-Michigan-s-voters
 
The MLive Media Group Editorial Board, the parent company of MLive.com, is made up of the company’s executive leadership, content directors, and editors who oversee its 10 local markets. Those markets include Ann Arbor, Detroit, Bay City, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon and Saginaw.
 
The MLive editorial said on August 4, 2014: “Michigan citizens have been deprived once of voting on wolf hunting. Now, state legislators are poised again to make an end run around voters. MLive Media Group is calling on elected officials to resist hijacking the public process a second time and allow voters in November to decide whether wolf hunting should be controlled by the Legislature or by a commission appointed by the governor…” “…If lawmakers do not act, all three proposals — two against, one for a wolf hunt — would appear on the ballot, allowing voters to have the final say. For once, we are asking lawmakers to do nothing. At this time, we’re not arguing for or against a wolf hunt. What we are calling for is an ethical, democratic process. The process that led to the 2013 wolf hunt was neither.” The full editorial is at
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/08/mlive_media_group_michigan_law.html
 
The Battle Creek Enquirer said on July 26, 2014: “There is no imperative — no pressing public interest — to establish a wolf hunt, certainly not against the will of the majority of Michigan voters, all of whom share an equal stake in the preservation of our natural resources. If lawmakers give a lick about the rights of its citizens and the democratic process, they will let voters decide this issue.” The full editorial is at
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201407261723/OPINION01/307260015&gcheck=1&nclick_check=1
 
The Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management measure, which gives the Natural Resources Commission the power to designate game species, includes two separate issues — an appropriation establishing an emergency fund to fight Asian carp, which makes the measure referendum-proof, and a provision for free hunting and fishing licenses to active military members.
 
The Senate-approved initiative, misleadingly called the “Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act,” would give the Natural Resources Commission authority to open a hunting and trapping season on wolves and other protected species—mirroring a measure the legislature passed in the spring of 2013 to circumvent a public vote on wolf hunting. The seven, unelected members of the NRC are political appointees and are not accountable to voters.
 
Last year, the NRC ignored testimony from wildlife experts and deleted thousands of emails from the public before designating the wolf as a game species and establishing Michigan’s first wolf hunt in more than four decades. In their rationale for the wolf hunt, NRC members used wolf-cattle depredation figures to justify their decision—even though two-thirds of the incidents occurred on one poorly managed Upper Peninsula farm. The farm owner pocketed more than $33,000 in reimbursements for livestock losses, failed to use fencing provided by the state to protect his animals, and recently pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges for the death of two guard donkeys provided to him at taxpayers’ expense to prevent wolf predation.
 
In March 2013, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected submitted more than 255,000 signatures to overturn a wolf-hunting law (Public Act 520 of 2012) that was approved during the 2012 lame duck session and based on fabricated stories about wolf incidents in the U.P. Public Act 520 will be on the November 2014 ballot, and should be rejected with a “no” vote.  The Legislature, ignoring the people, then passed a second law (Public Act 21 of 2013) to give the political appointees on the Natural Resources Commission the power to designate game species.  In March 2014, Keep Michigan Protected submitted more than 225,000 signatures to place Public Act 21 on the November 2014 ballot, and should also be rejected with a “no” vote.
 
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is supported by humane organizations, more than 100 Michigan veterinarians and veterinary hospitals, Native American tribes, conservation groups, faith-based organizations, the Detroit Zoological Society, leading wolf biologists including Michigan Tech professors Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich, rank-and-file hunters and many other concerned Michiganders. Learn more about our coalition at keepwolvesprotected.com.
 
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Press Releases: Dec 14, 2016

In the 2014 general election, Michigan voters soundly rejected two referendums on the trophy hunting and trapping of the state’s small population of wolves. But now, the Michigan legislature has rushed through another bill, SB 1187, to once again designate wolves as a game species to be hunted and trapped—in spite of that public rejection of an almost identical measure at the ballot box just two years ago...


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