LANSING (AP/WWJ) – Officials with Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission have confirmed there won’t be a gray wolf hunt this year.

Commissioner John Matonich said Thursday at a meeting in Lansing that the commission lacks the authority to set another hunt.

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A total of 23 wolves were killed last fall in the Upper Peninsula during Michigan’s first wolf hunt in four decades. Wolf hunt supporters say it addresses a problem of attacks on livestock and pets, while opponents argue the hunt was poorly planned and endangers the wolf’s recovery.

Jill Fritz, of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign, says of course there won’t be a wolf hunt this November, because both laws allowing the hunt are on hold.

“This was not some decision made by the National Resources Commission,” Fritz told WWJ’s Russ McNamara. “The fact is that they can’t hunt wolves and they can’t plan a wolf hunt, because both laws allowing wolves to be hunted are on hold.”

“So, it’s imperative that in the November election, citizens vote ‘no’ on both proposals on the ballot to overturn those laws permanently and return wolves to non-game status in Michigan so that wolves cannot be hunted in the future.”

The Natural Resources Commission is awaiting results of two ballot initiatives sought to repeal legislation making the wolf a game species and giving the seven-member panel appointed by the governor the authority to make such designations.

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A third citizen-initiated measure overriding the referendums and backing the wolf hunt was approved by lawmakers last month. It won’t take effect until March.

“I know that sounds kinda convoluted, but, as you may have seen, it’s been quite a campaign in the last two years,” said Fritz. “When citizens conduct a referendum on a law allowing wolves to be hunted, and the legislature responds by passing another law to block it.”

Based on a study conducted last winter, the Department of Natural Resources put the state’s wolf population at 636 – down from 658 in 2013 and 687 in 2012.

Matonich says he’s asked the DNR to update the state’s Wolf Management Plan and review statistics related to the killing of dogs and cattle by wolves.

The DNR advises the commission.

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