ROSCOMMON (WWJ/AP) – A state board has voted to allow a 6-week hunting season this year in which up to 43 wolves can be killed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The seven-member Natural Resources commission approved the hunt at a Thursday afternoon meeting in Roscommon after state wildlife regulators reportedly recommended the plan.
The wolf hunting season would open Nov. 15 and end Dec. 31 unless the target harvest is reached sooner.
This move by the commission comes just one day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 288, which gives the panel the responsibility to establish hunting seasons for wild game.
But, talking to reporters on Thursday, Snyder denied that 288 is about wolves — a claim critics say ignores the intent of the legislation.
“I didn’t sign a wolf bill recently,” Snyder said. “I was signing a bill that dealt with sound scientific management principles for game and for fish.”
In response, the vocal opposition coalition “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” wrote in a Facebook post: “Really, Governor Snyder? REALLY? Just how stupid do you think we are?”
The new law is a blow to the group, and other opponents, who gathered more than 250,000 petition signatures seeking a statewide referendum on a measure approved in December that designated the wolf as a game species. If officials determine that enough of them are valid, the issue will be placed on the 2014 election ballot. Now, the vote would be only a symbolic gesture.
Michigan is the sixth state to authorize hunting wolves since federal protections were lifted over the past two years in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies.
About 1,100 wolves have already been killed by hunters and trappers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
About 650 wolves are currently believed to roam remote areas in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
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