The Real Michigan Wolf Management Law
If you only listened to the Humane Society of the United States, you would think that Public Act 520 of 2012 immediately creates an open bounty on wolves across the state which allows “aerial gunning,” and, the newest gem, “poisoning.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
PA 520’12 – also known as the Wolf Management Law – names wolves as a game species, which in Michigan means it transfers authority for their management to the Natural Resources Commission. Michigan voters passed Proposal G in 1996 to give the NRC exclusive authority over game animals and requires it to use sound science in making wildlife management decisions.
The Humane Society of the United States’s ballot committee, which calls itself “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected,” has been holding campaign meetings where they distribute a “fact sheet” to attendees which includes anything but facts. It suggests that wolf hunting in Michigan will include “aerial gunning from helicopters,” among other fabrications, and at their meeting at an Ann Arbor public library they admitted that their “talking points” were derived from a pre-referendum poll they conducted; they are not based on actual facts.
Call us crazy, but we thought that “fact sheets” should contain actual “facts.” Therefore, we put together this fact sheet about what the Wolf Management Law actually does, as well as dispel some of the factually-challenged talking points that HSUS’s paid signature gatherers have been telling people. (Oh yeah, at that same Ann Arbor meeting, they also admitted they were paying signature gatherers $2 to $3 per signature!)
If you have trouble downloading or viewing the PDF, here is the text:
The Michigan Wolf Management Law
1. PA 520 of 2012, also known as the Wolf Management Law, requires the use of sound science for wolf management.
- The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is mandated to use sound science in wildlife management decisions by Proposal G, which was approved by the voters of Michigan in 1996.
- The Wolf Management Law does not create a hunting season. It authorizes the Natural Resources Commission to create one and creates a Wolf Management Council composed of representatives from animal rights, hunting, conservation, tribal and agricultural organizations.
- The Natural Resources Commission has requested that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provide the data and study the science on wolves in Michigan so that the commission can make a management decision based upon sound science. Neither a hunting season nor any specific hunting methods have been proposed.
2. The Wolf Management Plan authorized regulated hunting as a management tool in certain situations.
- The Natural Resources Commission and the DNR have committed to following the 2008 Wolf Management Plan, which was the basis for turning federal management over to the state.
- The Wolf Management Plan authorizes consideration of regulated hunting as a management tool when a statistical correlation could be shown between the wolf population in a localized area and livestock and/or pet depredation in that area, and other control methods were ineffective.
- In some areas of the UP, there has been a statistical correlation of wolf population and livestock depredation despite the availability of other control methods. The NRC is convening public forums, citizen work groups and the DNR to study the data and make recommendations as to whether a regulated wolf hunt is warranted to manage wolf populations in those areas.
3. Regulated hunting has been a successful management tool for multiple recovered species in Michigan.
- Native elk disappeared from Michigan by 1875 and were reintroduced in 1918. Michigan has had a regulated elk hunt since 1984 that serves as a management tool to keep the herd at a desired population density in a localized range to ensure the sustainability of the herd while minimizing human and crop conflicts.
- Native wild turkeys had disappeared from Michigan by 1900. Wild turkeys were reintroduced during the 1950’s. Regulated hunts have occurred in Michigan since 1969, and turkeys have had naturally reproducing, sustained populations statewide since 2000.
- The North American Model of Conservation is based on principles of public trust, public input, equal opportunity, noncommercial use, legitimate use including wildlife harvests for food, fur, self-defense and property protection, allowing wildlife to migrate freely and directing wildlife management decisions by sound science and trained professionals.
Myths and Facts about the Michigan Wolf Management Law
MYTH: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected claims that the Wolf Bill “allow[s] trophy hunters to slaughter wolves for sport.” Source: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected email to subscribers
FACT: The Wolf Bill does not allow hunting itself: it only authorizes the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish a regulated season if it is warranted by sound science, which the NRC is mandated to use by Proposal G of 1996. In fact, an online petition started by National Wolfwatchers Coalition – a group listed as endorsing Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, states this explicitly:
“While Public Act 520 of 2012 was signed into law, it only mandates that the wolf be designated a game animal. The Natural Resource Commission and the DNR, by law, must utilize principles of sound scientific management in making decisions regarding the taking of game.” Source: Change.org
Even those pushing the petition are on record acknowledging that the NRC must use sound science in wildlife management decisions – and yet they continue to tell the public that the Wolf Management Law allows “slaughter for sport.”
This choice of words is no accident: In a 2006 national poll, 83% of Americans approved of hunting for animal population control, 81% for wildlife management, and 71% to protect property, which are the explicit reasons why the Wolf Management Bill was passed. By contrast, the same poll showed that 53% of Americans approved of hunting “for the sport” and only 28% “for a trophy.” The anti-hunting groups running Keep Michigan Wolves Protected know that the public supports hunting for the very reasons why the Wolf Management Law was passed, so they are trying to mislead the public into thinking it was passed for “trophy” and “sport” reasons by repeating those words in their public statements and propaganda.
MYTH: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected spokespeople said “…wolf hunting may involve especially cruel and unfair practices, such as painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, aerial gunning from helicopters, and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves.” Source: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected handout at Marquette Kickoff Meeting
FACT: No season structure has yet been proposed in Michigan. There are no proposals in Michigan prescribing any specific method of take, let alone those listed above. Unlike Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the methods of take are prescribed by statute, the method of take in Michigan would be prescribed by the NRC as part of its mandate to use sound science. The NRC does not allow “aerial gunning from helicopters,” for any game species in Michigan; the suggestion that it would be approved for wolves is a misleading attempt to shock voters who are unfamiliar with Michigan hunting regulations.