Referendum Campaign Launched to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected
Coalition launches petition drive to qualify for November 2014 ballot and stop trophy hunting of wolves
LANSING, Mich. – With the Michigan legislature approving a bill in the waning days of the lame duck session to allow the trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan for the first time in nearly 50 years, a coalition of animal welfare, conservation groups and Native American tribes is launching a referendum campaign to qualify for the November 2014 general election ballot.
The ballot committee, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, intends to gather 225,000 signatures of Michigan voters by late March in order to qualify for the ballot, and is planning grassroots organizing events to be held across the state in the next few weeks to recruit volunteer signature gatherers. The group has also launched a new website for volunteers and voters at KeepWolvesProtected.com.
“Wolves have been protected in Michigan for nearly 50 years,” said Jill Fritz, Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States and director for Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. “With fewer than 700 wolves in Michigan, it’s not right to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction only to turn around and allow them to be killed for sport.”
It’s already legal in Michigan to kill wolves that attack livestock or dogs, making a trophy hunting season unnecessary. People don’t eat wolves, and they would be killed just for fun and trophies. Trophy hunting and fur trapping of this still-recovering species is premature, inhumane, and unnecessary.
"There is no scientific evidence to suggest that wolves need to be hunted,” said John Vucetich, associate professor of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, and director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project. “It's not common sense to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction only to turn around and allow them to be killed for sport.”
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.
“Kalamazoo Humane Society has always opposed gratuitous and inhumane killing of animals,” said Aaron Winters, executive director for Kalamazoo Humane Society. “That’s why we strongly back this referendum to prevent the use of cruel and reckless trapping and trophy hunting of the small population of wolves in our state.”
Organizing events are being planned for later this week and next in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Marquette, Saginaw and Traverse City.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation in December 2012 that designates the wolf a game species and authorizes the Natural Resources Commission to establish a wolf hunting season.
“The wolf is valuable to the ecosystem,” said Jackie Winkowski, owner of Snowy Plains Kennel, a sled dog business in Marquette. “It’s senseless to ruin the outdoor experience for people who enjoy the beauty of nature, in favor of a segment of the population that enjoys killing for trophies.”
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is supported by the Barry County Humane Society, Dearborn Animal Shelter, Kalamazoo Humane Society, The Humane Society of the United States and other groups. The new coalition is building its endorsements and other official supporters will be announced soon.
Organizing events are being planned in the next few weeks including the following cities:
· Grand Rapids – Jan. 19, 11 a.m., Grand Rapids Public Library, 2025 Leonard St. NE
· Traverse City – Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m., Park Place Hotel, 300 East State Street
· Marquette – Jan. 20, 4 p.m., Peter While Public Library, 217 N. Front St.
· Saginaw – Jan. 21, 7 p.m., Ramada Inn & Suites, 3325 Davenport Ave.
· Lansing – Jan. 22, 7 p.m., Radisson Hotel, 111 N. Grand Ave.
· Kalamazoo – Jan. 23, 7 p.m., Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St.
· Flint – Jan. 24, 6 p.m., Flint Public Library, 1026 E. Kearsley St.
· Ann Arbor – Jan. 25, 7 p.m., Ann Arbor District Library, 3333 Traverwood Dr.
· Detroit – TBA