Michigan Voters Strongly Oppose Wolf Hunting, NRC Authority, According to Post-election Survey
Voters of all political parties want Legislature and Natural Resources Commission to heed the will of the people
LANSING, Mich. – A statewide poll of Michigan voters conducted after the election reinforces strong opposition to wolf hunting and a strong desire not to hand power to designate game species over to the unelected Natural Resources Commission. The survey results come in the wake of the defeat of Proposals 1 and 2 and the voters’ rejection of wolf hunting and of the authority of the NRC to make these declarations.
An overwhelming 85 percent of voters say that Michigan citizens should not lose their right to vote on wildlife issues, and two-thirds of voters say the Legislature and the NRC should heed the will of the people on wolf hunting. A majority of voters agree that wolf hunting is unnecessary because wolves are not hunted for food and because killing problem wolves is already allowed.
“It’s rare to get such overwhelming agreement on any issue, but Michigan Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are united in their view that the people have spoken on wolf hunting and the decision makers must respect the will of the voters,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “Voters want to be able to have their voices heard on wildlife protection issues, and reject the idea of politicians or bureaucrats at the NRC deciding for them.”
The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners from Nov. 8 to 11, 2014, among 500 Michigan voters with a 4.4 percent margin of error, demonstrated particular bipartisan strength across every demographic group in rejecting NRC control over determining game species, including every region and media market.
Voters repealed Proposal 1 (moving the wolf to the game species list) with a 55 percent “no” vote, and they defeated Proposal 2 (giving the NRC the authority to decide which species can be hunted), with a 64 percent “no” vote. Proposal 2 was defeated in 69 of 83 counties, in a landslide rejection of NRC game species decision-making power. Michigan voters cast more than 1.8 million votes against Proposal 2 – more votes than any other candidate for statewide office received in their winning campaigns.
“We call on the NRC to heed the will of the people and to keep the wolf hunting season closed for the foreseeable future. This poll shows that voters knew exactly what they were doing in rejecting Proposals 1 and 2. They absolutely do not want to see trophy hunting of wolves, or to see a transfer of authority on hunting issues to a group of political appointees not accountable to voters,” added Fritz.
Here are the key findings:
There is a great deal of intensity around the fact that voters want to decide these issues and were unwilling to give up their right to do so. Overall, 85 percent of Michigan voters agree that, “Michigan voters should keep their right to vote on wildlife issues and should not hand over that power to an unelected, politically appointed commission,” including 71 percent who agree with that strongly and only 11 percent disagree, overall. This sentiment is consistent across party lines with 83 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of Independents, and 88 percent of Democrats agreeing. That is a remarkable level of agreement on anything. Agreement with this statement is over 80 percent in every region of the state (Wayne, Outer Metro, Central, and West), at 88 percent in the Detroit media market, 91 percent in the Flint market, and 79 percent in the Grand Rapids market. This sentiment attracted a remarkable amount of bipartisan support.
There is also broad agreement that the NRC and Legislature should listen to the will of the voters on wolf hunting. Nearly two-in-three voters (65 percent) agree that, “The legislature and the Natural Resources Commission should listen to the will of the voters, and should not authorize a wolf hunting season,” with 50 percent strongly agreeing and only 29 percent disagreeing, overall. This concept is related to the one above, but speaks to preventing the wolf hunt specifically, rather than the more unassailable value of voters’ right to make this decision. Still, 78 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents, and a 53 percent majority of Republicans agree with this statement. It also draws majority support in every region of the state: Wayne 75 percent, Outer Metro 72 percent, Central 65 percent, and 59 percent in West Michigan.
By a ten-point margin, Michigan voters made it clear on Election Day they do not want a wolf hunt by rejecting Proposal 1. Data from the post-election survey show that a majority of Michiganders agree that a wolf hunt is unnecessary because wolves are not hunted for food (53 percent agree, and 38 percent disagree) and that a wolf hunt is unnecessary because killing problem wolves is already allowed (52 percent agree, and 35 percent disagree). In addition, be they Democrats, Independents, or Republicans, voters decided they did not want to lose their right to vote when it comes to hunting and animals. The intense, near-universal agreement around this could be instructive as the Legislature considers the issue anew.