Voting Matters: We Can Stop the Wolf Hunt

The midterm elections are next week, and they include a number of important ballot proposals, including ones in Michigan that can save wolves from being hunted and let voters decide how animals are treated.

Here’s a refresher: the Michigan government is dead set on a wolf hunt, despite the fact that (1) wolves just came off the Endangered Species List, (2) wolves haven’t harmed people in Michigan and (3) the stories given by politicians in support of a wolf hunt (like wolves threatening kids) proved to be lies.

Prop 1 in Michigan is about the hunt, and Prop 2 was sneakily added as a way to try to ensure voters don’t ever get a say on which animals are hunted. Instead, politically appointed people (who were not elected and are not scientists) would be deciding on which animals can be hunted. To learn more about what’s going on, I spoke with renowned wolf expert Dr. John Vucetich, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Michigan Technological University, who has spent his entire career studying wolves and wolf management, and Michael Markarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer with the Humane Society of the United States. Both are against the wolf hunt and are encouraging people to vote “No” on Props 1 and 2.

“It’s already legal in Michigan to kill problem wolves, if any individual wolf is threatening livestock or creating a concern for safety,” Markarian said. “But the random killing of wolves for trophy and for sport [which is what the Michigan government is supporting] is inappropriate. When it comes to wolves, and the wolf hunt, people don’t eat wolves.”

Dr. Vucetich explained the science of why the wolf hunt is a bad idea. “One of the most important principles in wildlife management is that you shouldn’t kill a creature without a good reason. The government of Michigan has offered reasons for why it wants to hunt wolves, and those reasons are wrapped up with protecting safety and protecting livestock. The idea that wolves are a threat to human safety is just fabricated; it’s made up. With respect to livestock concerns, losses of livestock by wolves are rare events. It’s an important concern, and it’s not that it shouldn’t be dealt with. It’s just that hunting is not the sensible way to deal with that problem.”

He continued, “Most livestock losses in Michigan occur in late spring or early summer, and also in late summer and early fall. When there’s a problem, all the science that’s ever been done on the topic indicates you have to have a certain precision and timeliness. You have to be on the farm where the threat occurred within days or perhaps a week. You have to stay focused on the wolf that caused the problem until the problem’s solved. A hunting season in Michigan would occur in November and December, many months after most threats to livestock occur.”

Speaking on Prop 1 and 2, Markarian said, “The first law would allow a hunting season on wolves. Prop 2 grants the authority to the National Resources Commission to designate species as game and to open hunting and trapping seasons on those animals. What Proposal 2 does, is it takes that power away from the voters and puts it in the hands of this new commission, which is making these decisions unilaterally and is not accountable to the public. It takes the voters’ voice out of the equation. This is not just relevant to wolf hunting, but any other protected species that this politically appointed, unelected commission could decide in the future should be hunted or trapped. Voters would not have an opportunity to petition their government.”

He described what this midterm election means for wolves and for other species who could end up on the hunting list, despite science or voters’ opinions. “We believe this is a critically important election in Michigan,” he said. “Voters should not give up their rights to have a say on wildlife policy issues in the future. If voters don’t turn out in Michigan and vote No on Proposals 1 and 2, then they may give up their rights and never have this opportunity again. Even though this is taking place in Michigan, this is really ground zero of a national concern. Wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List just a couple years ago. More than 2,200 wolves have been killed, many with painful, steel-jawed leg hold traps. Many of them chased with packs of hounds and the dogs fight the wolves.”

What if you want to take action on this but are not a Michigan resident or not yet old enough to vote? Markarian suggests getting involved with the website Keep Wolves Protected. “You can alert your friends and family in Michigan. Many people, when they vote, they may not even get to the end of the ballot. They vote for governor and U.S. House, but they don’t get to the ballot questions.”

As Dr. Vucetich pointed out, you can also get involved with helping wildlife in your own region. “To young citizens in other states, get involved with whatever’s happening in your local communities that deals with wolves, if you happen to live in a state where there are wolves, or that has to do with environmental issues,” he suggested.

“This is a terrible slaughter of 2,200 animals who just came off the endangered list,” Markarian said about the hunt. “Voters in Michigan have an opportunity to send a message all over the country about how regular people feel about hunting wolves.”


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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...


Keep Wolves Protected is endorsed by a number of organizations and citizens including:

  • Kalamazoo Humane Society
  • Pamela Graves, DVM
  • Detroit Audubon Society
  • Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network
  • Aaron Payment, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Voiceless-MI
  • Humane Society of Huron Valley
  • Detroit Zoological Society


All Endorsements