Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Calls on Gov. Snyder to Restore Accountability, Stop Nov. 15 Wolf Hunt and Allow Voters to Decide in 2014
MLive.com's Investigative Series Reveals "How half-truths, falsehoods and one farmer distorted reason for historic hunt"
LANSING, MICH. – In the wake of an independent investigation conducted by Michigan Live that showed outright falsehoods and concocted stories about wolf incidents in the Upper Peninsula, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected called the behavior of state officials shameful and urged Gov. Rick Snyder to put a stop to the imminent wolf hunting season that begins on Nov. 15.
The series of news reports, backed up by documents and first-hand reporting by Michigan Live, shows state legislators conspiring with some state DNR officials and some farmers and hunting groups to invent wolf incidents in order to frighten the public into accepting a wolf hunting for the first time in the state in decades.
"It's clear that two legislative actions to approve wolf hunting were based on fraudulent information and anything but sound science," said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. "This is an appalling deception by our government, and it is only right and proper that Governor Snyder take immediate action to correct their wrong and undo some of this damage. It is clear that voters, not a handful of politicians who play fast and loose with the truth, should decide this issue."
Mlive.com’s stories “Michigan’s Wolf Hunt: How half truths, falsehoods and one farmer distorted reasons for historic hunt” (http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/michigans_wolf_hunt_how_half_t.html) and “The Michigan myth: How lawmakers turned this true wolf story into fiction” (http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/the_michigan_myth_read_the_tru.html) on Nov. 3, 2013, and “John Koski, Part 1: Tour the farm with more wolf attacks than anyone in Michigan's Upper Peninsula” (http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/john_koski_part_1_tour_the_far.html#incart_2box) on Nov. 4, 2013, reported that:
• In language contained in Michigan House Resolution 48 of 2011 and Michigan Senate Resolution 39 of 2011, sent to Congress to support the removal of the Great Lakes population of wolves from the federal Endangered Species List, state lawmakers grossly distorted the details of a wolf sighting outside an Upper Peninsula daycare into an incident that never happened.
• The Department of Natural Resources' fur bearer specialist and Michigan United Conservation Clubs' "Conservationist of the Year" Adam Bump intentionally misled public radio listeners with comments about wolves showing up in people's backyards.
• The Natural Resources Commission solicited public feedback on the wolf hunt and then deleted or ignored more than 10,000 email comments from members of the public opposing the hunt.
• More than 60 percent of wolf-livestock incidents in the U.P. have occurred on one farm, whose owner has a history of poor animal care, baited wolves using deer carcasses on his property, left bones and carcasses of cattle in his fields in violation of state laws and that also acted as bait, and still got tens of thousands in reimbursements and equipment and services that he squandered in his obvious attempts to exaggerate the impact wolves had on his property. The purported incidents of wolf depredation on his property were a central argument of lawmakers and others who demanded the hunt of a long-protected species.
"Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is grateful to MLive for exposing the fear tactics, misinformation and bureaucratic bungling that led lawmakers to make these horrible mistakes," said Fritz. "The Governor should also demand that the DNR require the U.P. farmer to pay back the state money he wasted on wolf management tools and take immediate action to investigate reports of animal cruelty on his farm."
Fritz continued, "The legislature covered up these lies and distortions by ignoring the will of more than 250,000 Michiganders who signed a ballot petition to place the wolf hunting law on the ballot, and then took voter rights away on wildlife policy matters by giving the Natural Resources Commission the authority to designate game species. How can voters trust the NRC to make wildlife decisions like eliminating protections for wolves when they clearly are using biased or falsified information? When we are successful in collecting the needed signatures for the second referendum, in less than one year Michigan voters will be able to regain their voice and retain their right to vote on these critical wildlife issues."
Last March, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected - a coalition of faith leaders, animal welfare groups, conservationists, veterinarians and Native American tribes - submitted more than 255,000 signatures of Michigan residents allowing voters to decide in the November 2014 election if the wolf should be designated as a game animal. Before the signatures could be validated by the state, legislators and the governor hastily approved a second law (Public Act 21 of 2013) allowing political appointees of the Natural Resources Commission to designate game species without voter oversight. In response, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected launched a second petition drive in August to overturn Public Act 21.
Michiganders interested in volunteering, donating or learning more about the issue can visit KeepWolvesProtected.com.