Wolf Coalition is Deeply Disappointed in Gov. Snyder who Signs Bill that Threatens Fragile Wolf Population
Governor signs bill allowing NRC to designate animals as game species without legislative or voter oversight
LANSING, Mich. – The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) coalition expressed its deep disappointment in Gov. Rick Snyder, who today signed legislation (SB 288) that circumvents voter rights by allowing the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season before Michigan voters can decide the issue in the November 2014 election.
“Governor Snyder has betrayed the trust of Michigan voters by signing legislation that takes away their referendum right to challenge laws on animal issues. And Governor Snyder failed to defend Michigan’s Constitution by allowing the democratic process and referendum vote in Nov. 2014 to be circumvented. The governor’s action validates the perception that state government is broken and does not reflect the best interests of the people it is supposed to serve. This is a dark day in the history of Michigan and for people who believe in fundamental democratic principles and the humane treatment of animals. We will not give up the fight to stop wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan,” said Jill Fritz, director of KMWP.
SB 288 has resulted in Michigan’s 7.4 million registered voters losing their right to decide whether to protect Michigan’s declining population of 658 wolves in the November 2014 election. KMWP submitted more than 255,000 petition signatures on March 27 to suspend Public Act 520 – a law that was rushed through last December’s lame duck legislative session and classifies wolves as a game species, until a referendum vote in November 2014.
SB 288 was fast-tracked through the legislative process before the Board of State Canvassers has certified signatures from registered voters from every corner of the state. SB 288, which empowers the NRC, a politically-appointed panel of seven persons, to designate animals as game species without legislative or voter oversight, is an an end run around the referendum and an attempt to silence the voice of over quarter of a million Michiganders who signed petitions to stop wolf hunting and trapping . Michigan voters would be unable to reverse decisions of the NRC because it is a regulatory body and not the Legislature.
· Michigan’s wolf population has decreased from 687 to 658 according the latest census by the Department of Natural Resources.
· More than 2,000 Michigan residents from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas volunteered for Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition of animal welfare groups, conservationists, veterinarians, Native American tribes and faith leaders, to gather signatures during sub-freezing temperatures in just 67 days.
· Despite the wolf population's fragile status and over the objections of renowned Michigan-based wolf scientists, the Michigan legislature rushed a bill through in December 2012, opening the door to the same practices that virtually eradicated the wolf population in the first place.
· Wolves are extremely shy and have a natural fear of humans. In the past 100 years, there has never been a verified attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.
· Current state law already allows farmers and dog owners to remove or shoot wolves that are attacking their animals, and farmers may obtain a permit from the DNR to remove additional wolves following a depredation incident. Fewer than 8 percent of the Upper Peninsula’s farms have reported any wolf depredations in the past 17 years.