Photo: Michigan Tech U/AP
LANSING—As expected, two laws that originally allowed wolf hunting were defeated through today’s moot referendum vote following a one-sided political ad campaign from the anti-hunting Keep Michigan Wolves Protected group, which is primarily financed by Washington, DC-based Humane Society of the United States. However, a citizen-initiated law passed in August will take effect in March and restore the authority of the Natural Resources Commission to name game species using sound science – including wolves – regardless of today’s vote.
“The results were about what we expected,” said Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “HSUS spent millions on misleading political ads and flyers to take away hunting rights, but the citizen initiative we passed in August protects those rights. I’m sure HSUS’s donors will be glad to know they spent $1.5 million on what’s essentially a public relations poll, money that could have gone to local animal shelters.”
Proposal 14-1 was a referendum on Public Act 520 of 2012, which originally added wolves to the game species list. Proposal 14-2 was a referendum on Public Act 21 of 2013, which authorized the Natural Resources Commission to add game species and issue fisheries orders, and made hunting and fishing licenses free for active military members. Both were put up for referendum by the HSUS-funded Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, but in a quirk of Michigan’s ballot process, it was a “yes” vote that would keep the laws.
“We encouraged our members to vote ‘yes,’ but we didn’t spend any advertising money on the proposals because we’d already won the issue by passing the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act,” said YoungeDyke. “Next, I expect the anti-hunters to throw a lawsuit at it, but they won’t win based on the title-object clause of the Michigan Constitution. The object of that law is, as the title says, to make fish and wildlife management decisions on the basis of sound scientific fish and wildlife management, and that’s exactly what it does.”
Even if the proposals had been approved, there would not have been a wolf hunt in 2014. Department of Natural Resources officials announced earlier this year that there would not be enough time to put together a hunt based on sound science between now and the end of the year. Once the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act takes effect in March or April, the DNR will be able to examine the science to put together a proposal for a possible 2015 wolf hunt.
Photo: Michigan Tech U/AP