January 22, 2013
Michigan Animal Rights Activists Fight to Block Wolf Hunt Through Flawed Petition Process - 2
by Tony Hansen
The animal rights freaks are nothing if not predictable.
When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 520 into law designating wolves as a game animal and handing management of the species over to the state’s Natural Resources Commission, everyone involved knew it was only a matter of time before the animal rights groups started to look for loopholes to exploit.
That happened last week when a group called “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” filed a petition with the Michigan Board of Canvassers. Their intention is to collect more than 160,000 signatures by March 27 and to place the issue on a ballot referendum.
There are a number of angles here that hunters – and all voting Americans -- should take exception with.
The group claims to be concerned about the welfare of Michigan’s wolves. That’s interesting given that wolves are well above population goals and have been for more than a decade. There are about 700 wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and were removed from the endangered species list in 2012. Wolves were deemed “recovered” according to the Endangered Species Act after topping 200 animals. That was achieved years ago and yet wolves remained on the ESA.
Why? Animal rights groups stockpile cash they’ve collected through a series of slick marketing campaigns based almost entirely on half-truths and emotional hyperbole. If you have cash, you have the ability to delay many things.
And that’s precisely the intent here. The group can delay any type of wolf hunt in Michigan until 2014 if it’s able to collect the required signatures.
And therein is another point of issue: The group will not canvass the state of Michigan to collect those signatures. It will focus heavily on Ann Arbor, Detroit and urban areas in southeast Michigan. There are no wolves there. There are darned few hunters. Heck, finding a tree isn’t easy in some sections of the state. And yet this group is allowed to collect signatures in that area alone and determine what the entire state must do. It’s an insult to the democratic process.
In 1996, Michigan’s voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal that gives sole authority to Michigan’s NRC for setting wildlife management policies. Our democratic system uses a system where voters choose representatives to cast votes on our behalf in the state Legislature.
In other words, the decision to establish wolves as a game animal was already voted on by Michigan’s voters: The legislation was approved by legislators that the voters chose to represent them.
But the animal rights groups don’t like the results. They want another vote – a vote that they control and dictate with lawyers, dishonest marketing and cash.
This must be stopped. States must amend their ballot process to prevent such nonsense from being allowed to undermine our legislative process.
Michigan is a state with about a million licensed hunters and anglers. It also has one of the nation’s largest and longest-running conservation groups in Michigan United Conservation Clubs along with strong state chapters of groups like Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Pheasants Forever.
This is shaping up to be a tremendous fight. And early indications are that the hunting community is unified and ready to rock.
About Open Country
Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.
Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.
Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.
We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.
The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.