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Campaign to stop wolf hunt to turn in petitions

Canis lupus.
USFWS Midwest

The campaign to stop wolf hunts in Michigan says it has more than enough petition signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot. This would be the second ballot challenge to a wolf hunt because the state’s first wolf hunting law was blocked by a petition challenge that will also go before voters in November.

The Legislature got around that by passing a new law that’s the target of this ballot drive.

“The Legislature’s actually amended Michigan statute for the sole reason of circumventing a voter referendum. It’s just wrong. Everything from beginning to end has been wrong, but the citizens are here to say, we want a chance to vote on it,” said Jill Fritz, the campaign manager for Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “We’re just very excited to be able to turn in a large amount of signatures to demonstrate that the public is not in support of wolf hunting in our state

Fritz says the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected drive has 66 thousand signatures more than 161,305

legally required to get the referendum on the ballot.

Fritz says the petition drive will turn its signatures to state elections officials tomorrow. Michigan’s first and only wolf season took place last November.

A competing campaign is collecting signatures to put a petition-initiated bill before the Legislature that would preempt the referendum challenge.

“We’re about halfway there,” said Drew Youngedyke with Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management. The pro-hunting drive wants to put a petition-initiated bill before the Legislature that would preempt the referendum and ensure the Natural Resources Commission’s authority to declare what species may be hunted. Youngedyke says the campaign expects to turn in its petitions shortly before the May 29 deadline.

There is also a federal lawsuit underway seeking to restore federal endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.