Apparently, the average law-abiding citizen officially has no say any more in the state of Michigan. Anyone with a modicum of compassion for non-human animals is being ignored, written off and treated like a child in a power coup led by anti-wolf fanatics in their game department, state legislature and governor’s office.
After all the information that’s come out about the benefits of wolves to an ecosystem, or the intrinsic rights of animals, wolves are still being treated as vermin, trapped, snared and bounty-hunted as blindly as they were in the ignorant 1800’s. Indeed, all hell is breaking loose across the West.
Here’s what the mainstream media wants us to know about the situation there [my comments in brackets]:
Governor signs bill that may open door for wolf hunt
by Anne Cook
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today that may open the door for a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Senate Bill 288 gives the Natural Resources Commission the responsibility to establish managed open season hunts for wild game. It exempts the taking of mourning doves, pets and livestock.
The Legislature will maintain 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.”
[Explain how killing healthy wolves is supposed to bolster thriving animal populations.]
The legislation met plenty of opposition, however, from groups like the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition. The KMWP said the legislation was an attempt to run around a proposed referendum on wolf hunting.
“The legislature wants to silence the voice of Michigan voters, circumvent the democratic process and nullify the more than 255,000 signatures submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office,” said Jill Fritz, director of the KMWP coalition.
Michigan Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm group, however, applauded the signing of the legislation [no surprise there] calling it a “triumph of science and reason over emotion stirred by out-of-state interests.”
“Michigan voters’ strong support for Proposal G in 1996 made it clear residents want oversight of wildlife management in the hands of experts,” said Rebecca Park, legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau. “Despite what opponents to this legislation would have you believe, these bills are very much about respecting and reinforcing the people’s will, not denying it.”
[No doubt Michigan residents never knowingly intended to give up their right to the voter initiative process in regards to wildlife.]
“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.
[Deep pocketed? Surely “out of state” wolf proponents’ pockets are not as deep as the ones on the OshKosh B’Gosh coveralls worn by members of the Michigan Farm Bureau or the suits of their lobbyists.]
Meanwhile, here’s the press release from Keep Wolves Protected:
Governor signs bill allowing NRC to designate animals as game species without legislative or voter oversight
LANSING, Mich. – The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) coalition expressed its deep disappointment in Gov. Rick Snyder, who today signed legislation (SB 288) that circumvents voter rights by allowing the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season before Michigan voters can decide the issue in the November 2014 election.
“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.
SB 288 has resulted in Michigan’s 7.4 million registered voters losing their right to decide whether to protect Michigan’s declining population of 658 wolves in the November 2014 election. KMWP submitted more than 255,000 petition signatures on March 27 to suspend Public Act 520 – a law that was rushed through last December’s lame duck legislative session and classifies wolves as a game species, until a referendum vote in November 2014.
SB 288 was fast-tracked through the legislative process before the Board of State Canvassers has certified signatures from registered voters from every corner of the state. SB 288, which empowers the NRC, a politically-appointed panel of seven persons, to designate animals as game species without legislative or voter oversight, is an an end run around the referendum and an attempt to silence the voice of over quarter of a million Michiganders who signed petitions to stop wolf hunting and trapping . Michigan voters would be unable to reverse decisions of the NRC because it is a regulatory body and not the Legislature.
• Michigan’s wolf population has decreased from 687 to 658 according the latest census by the Department of Natural Resources.
• More than 2,000 Michigan residents from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas volunteered for Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition of animal welfare groups, conservationists, veterinarians, Native American tribes and faith leaders, to gather signatures during sub-freezing temperatures in just 67 days.
• Despite the wolf population’s fragile status and over the objections of renowned Michigan-based wolf scientists, the Michigan legislature rushed a bill through in December 2012, opening the door to the same practices that virtually eradicated the wolf population in the first place.
• Wolves are extremely shy and have a natural fear of humans. In the past 100 years, there has never been a verified attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.
• Current state law already allows farmers and dog owners to remove or shoot wolves that are attacking their animals, and farmers may obtain a permit from the DNR to remove additional wolves following a depredation incident. Fewer than 8 percent of the Upper Peninsula’s farms have reported any wolf depredations in the past 17 years.
Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson