Wayne Pacelle: Michigan politicians must heed voters on wolves
The three Rs of electoral democracy are respect, responsibility, and right.
Right as opposed to wrong.
Michigan officials owe voters nothing less, but it's a useful time for a refresher now.
By a decisive 55-45 margin this election, Michigan voters repealed the law allowing trophy hunting of wolves. By an even more crushing margin of 64-36, voters nullified a law that would have given the Natural Resources Commission — an unelected body — authority to okay hunting of wolves, or practically any other species.
Voters spoke. Clear as a bell. No hanging chads need be counted. No room to quibble.
What voters need to hear now from the governor, state legislators, and the Department of Natural Resources is that these votes will be respected. That wolves, which are already subject to selective control to prevent or address threats to livestock or property, will not be the focus of trophy hunting or commercial trapping in 2015. That a bogus third wolf-hunting statute passed last August by the same lawmakers who gave us Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 will not stand as a legislative coup against a rightful election outcome.
No tricks, please. The meaning and outcome of the election could not be plainer. The third vote of the Legislature will be argued in court. Fine. We'll be there. But in the forum that counts most, the verdict has been rendered.
Really, isn't it time to be discussing some other pressing business?
Michigan's DNR calls itself "a nationally recognized leader." You don't suppose that DNR officials want to make an exception in this case and try to thumb their noses at voters?
You don't suppose that leaders in Lansing will allow themselves to be grouped with rank autocrats overseas who pay lip service to democracy and then have their way regardless of the views of the people?
Let's hear from these officials now, please.
Times are changing. Attitudes toward wolves are changing. Public attitudes about wildlife and management are changing. People recognize that wolves play a vital role in ecosystems and can be a benefit to the economy and ecology of Michigan. And what's more, since nobody eats wolves, there's just no compelling reason to hunt them for the fun of it. That's just killing for the thrill of it.
Section 1 of the state Constitution speaks to the basics of governance: All political power is inherent in the people. There is a reason that words like this ring with such lofty resonance. They are not words on a page. Lawmakers, political appointees, executive agency leaders, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians — indeed every American — should heed them.
Wayne Pacelle is president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States