DETROIT (WWJ/AP) — On election day, Michigan voters soundly defeated two proposals that would have allowed wolves to be hunted in the state, but the battle seems far from over.

Jill Fritz from the Humane Society said that a third law passed over the summer would permit a hunt next year, but the group filed a lawsuit claiming it’s unconstitutional.

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“The people of Michigan spoke on Tuesday,” Fritz said. “They spoke out very clearly that they do not support the hunting of wolves and they do not support handing the power to designate protected species as game species to an unelected body of political appointees.”

The lawsuit contends that the new law violates Michigan’s constitution, which mandates that citizen petition campaigns target only one issue. Fritz says the petitions in question had several “add-ons.”

The suit says the law is unconstitutional because the citizens’ petition drive that prompted it covered more than just wolf hunting.

“You would see signs saying, ‘sign here to stop Asian Carp, sign here to get free hunting and fishing licences for our armed forces,'” Fritz said. “But nowhere did it say, ‘sign here to allow the wolf hunt to continue.'”

Fritz said that regardless of the lawsuits’ outcome, she is hopeful the Natural Resources Commission will not authorize a wolf hunt.

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“Regardless of what happens with our lawsuit, we hope that the Natural Resources Commission will heed the voice of the people and what they said at the election on Tuesday,” Fritz said. “Should they gain that authority to designate wolves as game and authorize the hunt, we hope that they will not.”

One of the measures proposed on the ballot 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.

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.

 

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