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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michigan Voters to Make their Voices Heard on Wolf Hunting

I’ve just returned from western and northern Michigan, where I joined animal advocates, tribal leaders, and conservationists at kick-off meetings to launch the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected ballot measure campaign, and to turn back the state legislature’s recently passed bill authorizing the trophy hunting of wolves for the first time in nearly 50 years. Dozens of volunteers in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Marquette, and other communities have joined the “Wolf Pack,” each pledging to gather 687 signatures of Michigan voters—one for every wolf in the state’s fragile and recovering population.

Keep Michigan Wolves ProtectedThose volunteers are hitting the streets in frigid winter temperatures, and bringing us closer to our goal of collecting 225,000 signatures over the next two months to qualify the referendum for the November 2014 ballot. Gathering the necessary signatures and securing a place on the ballot would stay the legislature’s bill from taking effect for the next two years—until Michigan voters have the opportunity to have their say on the issue in November 2014—potentially saving hundreds of wolves from recreational hunting and trapping. And if Michigan voters ultimately say “No” to the wolf hunting bill, they could save thousands of wolves over the next decade or more.

Wolves have been protected under the Endangered Species Act for decades, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Congress recently stripped the species of all federal protections in the Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies, respectively, turning over management to states with hostile and aggressive hunting and trapping plans. Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming all rushed to kill these rare creatures, allowing especially cruel and unfair practices, such as painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, and using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves—even killing Yellowstone’s celebrated wolves that had been studied for years. Michigan lawmakers rushed a bill through in the lame-duck session over the holidays to add to this carnage, but Michigan may become the first state in the country where the voters, not the politicians, will make the final decision on whether to open a wolf hunting season. 

It’s not right to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction only to turn around and allow them to be killed for sport. What’s more, it’s already legal in Michigan to kill wolves in order to protect livestock or dogs, and allowing the killing of wolves just for sport is unnecessary and will accomplish nothing. People don’t eat wolves, and it’s just pointless trophy hunting for no good purpose.

If you live in Michigan, please join the campaign to save wolves from the same reckless sport hunting and persecution that put these animals on the endangered species list in the first place. Kick-off events are being held this week in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Flint, Ann Arbor and Detroit—you can attend one closest to you, or sign up here to volunteer. With your help, we can send the message that voters want wolves protected, not persecuted.

Paid for with regulated funds by the committee to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected,
5859 W. Saginaw Hwy. #273, Lansing, MI 48917

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