Want to hunt Michigan wolves? You'll have to wait until at least 2015
With two proposals concerning wolf hunts on the Nov. 4 ballot, the Natural Resources Commission will not schedule a hunt of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula this year.
“We do not have the authority to set a wolf hunt now,” said John Matonich, a NRC commissioner during a commission meeting Thursday. “It’s happening too late in the year for 2014, so the NRC will wait until 2015” to set another hunt.
The two proposals are referendums on two laws passed by the Legislature in 2012 and 2013 that authorize the NRC to designate game species and set a wolf hunt. Opponents of the hunt gathered enough signatures twice to try and get the two laws repealed.
On the ballot, supporters of the wolf hunt would vote yes on the two proposals. Opponents would vote no to repeal the law.
The petitions put the laws on hold until after the vote. Even if the laws are upheld in November, there isn’t enough time to set a hunt for 2014, Matonich said.
A third citizen-initiated legislative petition drive, which supports the wolf hunt and supersedes the other two petition ballots, was passed by the Legislature last month, but that law won’t take effect until sometime in March.
The NRC authorized a hunt for 2013 with a goal of killing up to 43 wolves of the population of more than 600 wolves in three sections of the western Upper Peninsula. That hunt resulted in 23 wolves getting killed by hunters.
Opponents of the hunt said people already have the right to kill troublesome wolves who threaten livestock and pets and that an organized hunt isn’t needed.
Supporters say the wolves are beginning to encroach on communities and the herd needs to be thinned.