DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – In largely symbolic referendums, Michigan voters have rejected two state laws that allow hunting of gray wolves.
One measure removed the wolf from the state endangered list and classified it as a game species. The other empowered the appointed Natural Resources Commission to decide whether wolves should be hunted. The outcome of Tuesday’s election voids both laws.
“What Michigan voters said is the DNR and others should not be deciding whether we’re going to shoot wolves or not,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick. “This is basically a U.P. (Upper Peninsula) issue but was decided by the whole state and so those who wanted to protect the wolves have a victory.”
While voters voiced their opposition to the hunts, the final result remains uncertain. Lawmakers this summer approved a third citizen-initiated measure overriding the referendums and backing the wolf hunt. Lawmakers attached a $1 million appropriation to the bill, set to take effect in March, making it referendum-proof under state law.
Opponents say trophy hunting of wolves is inappropriate and the predator is still fragile after all but disappearing from Michigan in the last century. Supporters say it’s a necessary step to prevent conflicts with humans in some parts of the Upper Peninsula.
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.
Last year, the Natural Resources Commission scheduled Michigan’s first wolf hunt in decades under authority granted by legislators. Twenty-two wolves were killed in the hunt in November and December — fewer than the authorized maximum of 43.
Find local election results by county at the following links:
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