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Gov. Snyder signs controversial 'wolf hunt' bill

Nancy Warren

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed SB 288 and 289 this afternoon. The bills pave the way for a limited wolf hunt to take place in the Upper Peninsula this fall. It also goes around a referendum aimed at stopping a wolf hunt.

Update 10:08 p.m.

The group organized around stopping a wolf hunt in Michigan released a statement saying they were "deeply disappointed" in Gov. Snyder's decision to sign SB 288.

From Keep Michigan Wolves Protected:

“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

5:42 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith just spoke with Gov. Snyder about signing these bills. In response to Smith's question about circumventing an effort to stop a wolf hunt in Michigan, Snyder said voters could challenges these bills as well.

Listen here:


5:29 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody recently traveled to the Upper Peninsula to learn more about how residents there view a potential wolf hunt.

The sponsor of these bills, State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said residents in Ironwood, MI are living in fear of the wolves. 

Carmody checked into that claim.

Tune into the Environment Report tomorrow to find out what he found.

In his first story on the Environment Report, Carmody reported the limited hunt would take place in three areas in the UP:

State wildlife officials say a hunt would kill only 43 wolves. The hunting would be restricted to places where wolf attacks on livestock, hunting dogs and household pets have been a problem.

5:13 p.m.

The Michigan Farm Bureau released a statement supporting the Governor's signature.

“We welcome visitors from out of state to come enjoy the bounty of our woods and waters, but have to remain vigilant and draw a line when deep-pocketed activist groups try to tell us how to manage those resources,” Park said. “It’s extremely gratifying to see us taking the necessary steps to protect our rights and our identity as Michiganians.”

Here's a look at how wolves have recovered in Michigan. This graph was prepared by the MDNR:

Wolf population increases in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The population from 1989 to 2011.
Credit MDNR
Wolf population increases in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The population from 1989 to 2011.

4:57 p.m.

Gov. Snyder's office released a statement on the new law.

Legislation authorizing the state Natural Resources Commission to designate game species in Michigan was signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder. Senate Bill 288, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, gives the commission the responsibility to establish managed open season hunts for wild game and authority to regulate the taking of fish. It exempts the taking of mourning doves, pets and livestock. The Legislature maintains its ability to both add and remove species on the list. “This action helps ensure sound scientific and biological principles guide decisions about management of game in Michigan,” Snyder said. “Scientifically managed hunts are essential to successful wildlife management and bolstering abundant, healthy and thriving populations.” Additionally, the measure allows members of the military to obtain hunting and fishing licenses free of charge and eliminates a requirement that the military member be stationed outside of the state. Snyder also signed SB 289, sponsored by Casperson, which guarantees the legal right to hunt and fish in the state. SB 288 and SB 289 are now Public Acts 21 and 22 of 2013. Both measures are strongly supported by key wildlife conservation organizations.

4:44 p.m.

In addition to SB 288, a companion bill SB 289 was also signed into law by the Governor.

SB 289 amends the with the following declaration to the state's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

"The legislature declares that hunting, fishing, and the taking of game are a valued part of the cultural heritage of this state and should be forever preserved. The legislature further declares that these activities play an important part in the state's economy and in the conservation, preservation, and management of the state's natural resources. Therefore, the legislature declares that the citizens of this state have a right to hunt, fish, and take game, subject to the regulations and restrictions prescribed by subsection (2) and law."

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs said this in a statement after Gov. Snyder signed the bills:

"We thank Governor Snyder for continuing Michigan's tradition of separating conservation from politics today," said Erin McDonough, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. "These bills protect the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers, and ensure that wildlife management decisions are based on the recommendations of biologists, not out-of-state anti-hunters."

4:23 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed SB 288 into law. The controversial bill allows the state's Natural Resources Commission to designate game species. The bill also designates the wolf as a game species, circumventing the current effort to prevent a wolf hunt in Michigan.

This from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that will allow a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is expected to approve limited wolf hunts for this coming fall in the Upper Peninsula. That action -- expected tomorrow -- would circumvent the threat of a successful referendum challenge to an earlier wolf-hunting law. Critics of the new law say the governor and the commission should not try to go around the wishes of more than 255,000 voters who signed petitions to put the question on the November 2014 ballot.

*We will update this post.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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