253,705 Signatures Submitted to Place Wolf Hunting Referendum on 2014 Ballot
More than 2,000 Michigan volunteers rallied to gather signatures in 67-day period
LANSING, Mich. – Keep Michigan Wolves Protected submitted 253,705 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, that, when certified, will place any plans for a wolf hunting season on hold until Michigan voters decide the issue at the ballot box in November 2014. During a short 67-day period, the coalition far surpassed the 161,305 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
“The public response over the past few months has been tremendous, and it demonstrates that Michigan voters in every corner of the state oppose the pointless trophy hunting of wolves,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “Mounting a petition drive in the dead of winter and collecting a quarter of a million signatures in 67 days has been a monumental feat. We look forward to giving Michigan voters—not the politicians—the opportunity to decide whether to keep wolves protected or to allow sport hunting and trapping of these rare creatures just beginning to recover from the brink of extinction.”
Across the entire state, hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spoken with their pens to tell legislators that they were wrong in approving a wolf hunting bill last December.
More than 2,000 Michigan residents volunteered for Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition of animal welfare groups, conservationists, veterinarians, Native American tribes and faith leaders — to gather signatures during sub-freezing temperatures. The volunteers participated in more than 700 events statewide, most of them outdoors.
By the time Keep Michigan Wolves Protected received approval for the wording by the Board of State Canvassers and printed petitions, the 90-day petition period prescribed by law had dwindled down to only 67 days to complete the task. The most common response heard by signature gatherers — whether they were in Houghton, Marquette, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Petoskey or Lansing — was “Thank you for being here and speaking up for our wolves.”
Once submitted, the Board of State Canvassers has 60 days, with an option of 15 additional days, to determine if the petitions contain enough valid signatures. If so, implementation of Public Act 520, the wolf hunting law, will be suspended pending the outcome of the November 2014 vote.
Wolves have been protected in Michigan for almost 50 years after being hunted to the brink of extinction. After more than four decades of protection, there are fewer than 700 wolves in Michigan. Despite the wolf population's fragile status, the Michigan legislature rushed a bill through last year’s session authorizing a sport hunting season for wolves – opening the door to the same practices that virtually eradicated their population in the first place.
It’s already legal in Michigan to kill wolves in order to protect livestock or dogs, making a sport hunting and trapping season unnecessary. People don’t eat wolves, and it’s just pointless trophy hunting for no good purpose. Wolf hunting may involve especially cruel and unfair practices, such as painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves.
Michigan residents interested in volunteering, donating or learning more about the issue can visit KeepWolvesProtected.com.