Michigan Veterinarians Back Ballot Effort to Keep Wolves Protected
LANSING, Mich. – More than 100 Michigan veterinarians have endorsed the effort to prevent the authorization of a wolf hunting season in Michigan. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition of animal welfare groups, conservationists, veterinarians, Native American tribes, hunters, faith leaders and others, is seeking to gather 225,000 signatures of Michigan voters by late March to place the question on the November 2014 ballot.
“Veterinarians are experts in animal health and welfare and they know that trophy hunting and trapping of wolves is inhumane and irresponsible,” said Jill Fritz, Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States and director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.
Wolves have been protected in Michigan for almost 50 years after being hunted to the brink of extinction. After more than four decades of protection, there are fewer than 700 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Despite the wolf population's fragile status, the Michigan legislature rushed a bill through last year’s session authorizing a sport hunting season for wolves – opening the door to the same practices that virtually eradicated their population in the first place.
Current Michigan law allows farmers, ranchers and dog owners to kill wolves who attack their livestock or dogs, although such instances are rare.
“Wolves are an essential part of Michigan’s ecosystem and allowing an indiscriminate and ineffective wolf hunting and trapping season is not a sound wildlife management policy,” said Kalamazoo veterinarian Dr. Liene Dindonis. “Concerns about livestock kills can be better addressed through adequate husbandry and protective measures such as improved fencing and utilizing guard dogs.”
Trophy hunting of wolves often involves the cruelest and most unsporting methods of killing, including catching wolves with inhumane steel-jawed leg hold traps in which the animals can suffer for hours or even days, using neck snare traps, shooting wolves over piles of bait, and even chasing down and killing wolves using packs of dogs. These methods are not only inhumane, but have no legitimate place in a sound wildlife management program.
"As veterinarians, the public looks to us for guidance on issues pertaining to animal health and welfare," said Pamela Graves, DVM, a member of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Steering Committee. "It is therefore critical that we step forward to support this important initiative to protect the wolf population from cruel and unnecessary trophy hunting."
In addition to the more than 100 individual Michigan veterinarians, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, a national veterinary organization with a focus on animal health and welfare, has endorsed the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign. For a complete list of Michigan veterinarians who have endorsed Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, visit http://keepwolvesprotected.com/about/endorsements.