I am a lifelong U.P. resident who grew up on a farm, in a family with deer hunters. Several sightings of wolves over the past 20 years have been fleeting and without incident, other than the thrill of seeing a wolf.
The National Wolfwatcher Coalition supports the effort to repeal Public Act 21 of 2013. It's the only way to restore our constitutional right to protect Michigan's wildlife, a right voters had from 1908 until May 2013.
PA21 allows the legislature and politically-appointed Natural Resources Commission to designate species as game animals, with no opportunity for appeal by voters. With newfound authority, the NRC quickly named the wolf as a game animal and authorized a wolf hunt starting this fall. They dismissed the signatures of 255,000-plus registered voters from every county, and disregarded our monumental achievement of placing the question of the wolf as a game animal before voters in November 2014.
The only member of the NRC with a science background, Annoesjka Steinman, voted against the hunt and designating the wolf as a game species. There is no science-based need to hunt Michigan's wolves, according to wolf biologists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich. These scientists have actively opposed the hunt.
DNR estimates the wolf population declined over two years, to 658. Compare that to the U.P.'s estimated 280,000 deer, or 13,000 black bears. Why rush to hunt wolves?
Michigan's Wolf Management Plan, effective since January 2012, and law allow for non-lethal and lethal control to address problems. Conflicts-e.g., depredation on cattle or dogs, habituation to people-can already be addressed. Conflicts must be resolved when they occur. Hunting will not solve problems.
Despite hunting, lethal control will continue.
The hunting zones include vast uninhabited tracts of national forest. These areas, with ideal prey and habitat, are where wolves should live and thrive. Per biologists, randomly killing wolves not causing problems could create more conflicts due to pack disruption.
Being stripped of our constitutional right to a meaningful vote on wildlife management issues is wrong. PA21 isn't only about wolves. The sand hill crane-in Minnesota, a game bird and hunted-could be next.
Wolves and other wildlife species belong to all of us. Voters' right to decide this and other wildlife preservation and management issues should be restored.
This is the rationale for the current signature-gathering efforts for the November 2014 referendum election to reject Public Act 21.
Great Lakes Adviser