wolf hunting

Ron Kagan has been head of the Detroit Zoo for more than 20 tumultuous years. During that time, he fought off an effort by Detroit City Council to close the zoo and helped win its independence years before the city’s bankruptcy gave the art institute its own near-death experience.

He’s also led a transformation of the zoo from a somewhat tired park to a leader in worldwide conservation efforts and a much more exciting place.

The zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life is the nation’s largest polar bear exhibit; next year, a new penguin conservation center and wolf habitat will open. Attendance has swollen so much that Kagan is now facing the unwelcome chore of planning a new parking structure.

USFWS

State wildlife officials are looking for wolf poachers in the Upper Peninsula.

Two wolves were killed last month in Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties.

In one case, a tracking collar on one of the wolves was removed. 

Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

Less than a month after voters weighed in on wolf hunting in Michigan, a new study looks at the attitudes driving the wolf debate.

The study, co-authored by Meredith Gore of Michigan State University, tries to better understand why controversy persists in wolf management in Michigan.

Gore's research found that a common factor appears to be assumptions people make about other groups. She says interviews revealed a tension between local knowledge about wolves, and what the science says. She says that can undermine trust in the decision-making that goes on in Lansing.

Michigan had the lowest turnout in a Governor’s race this year since the John Engler-Geoffrey Fieger face-off of 1998. And, while a lot of Republicans sat out this year, it was mostly Democrats who stayed home in droves on Election Day.

So, despite the low turnout, conservatives can rejoice because Republicans will remain in control in Lansing for at least the next two years. But progressives can, perhaps, find some solace in the fact that getting initiatives and challenges on the ballot will be easier than it has been in 16 years.

(Shout-out to the Lansing political consulting firm Sterling Corporation and its attorney Bob LaBrandt for being the first to point this out.)

Proposals are by and large put on the ballot by petition drives. (The Legislature can also put questions on the ballot.)

The number of signatures required to get a petition on the ballot is based on the number of people who voted in the previous election for governor. So, fewer voters in 2014 means fewer signatures needed to get on the ballot in 2016.

USFWS

Michigan voters rejected a pair of referenda on state laws authorizing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Wolf hunt opponents celebrated tonight.  

“The people of Michigan have shown that they don’t want the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves,” says Jill Fritz with the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

But this may just be a pyrrhic victory for wolf hunting opponents. The results of Tuesday’s vote amount to a non-binding referendum.

USFWS Midwest

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what could happen to the state Legislature after the election, possible surprises in congressional races and the wolf hunting proposal votes which may not matter.


Thirty years ago, I was briefly involved in the dog show world, when we had a collie that went on to become a champion.

That was during the long ago and now long-forgotten race in which President Ronald Reagan was running for re-election against Walter Mondale.

Both offered vastly different views of America. There were a some people who were very passionate about that campaign, either because they loved Reagan, hated his policies or were excited about the first woman on a major party ticket, Geraldine Ferraro.

But when I came off the campaign and consorted with regular humans, I learned that wasn’t true for most. The show dog people I knew, for example, were more bitterly passionate about their rivals and paid more attention to the idiosyncrasies of the various judges than most people did the election.

Most of them could recite their dogs’ pedigrees at the drop of a hat, or point at a collie and say – “see, you can tell from his hindquarters that he’s out of Champion La Estancia Travolta.” The woman who told me that did ask me once “who’s that guy running against Reagan?” but I think she did so to be polite.

What I took away from this is that America is a land of a million subcultures, and increasingly, politics is just one of those.

There are big differences between the candidates for governor this time, and the candidates are spending tens of millions to try and get your attention in the hope that you might actually vote. But we know already that most people won’t. Apart from the candidates themselves, I’ve seen just two races this year where people seem energized and excited.

Voters will get to weigh in on two laws that allowed gray wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.
Anders Illum / flickr.com

Michigan voters will get to weigh in on two laws that allowed wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

The Humane Society just started airing ads aimed at persuading voters in the closing days of the campaign season, but whether people vote “yes” or “no” on wolf hunting, the two ballot questions are not the final word on the issue.

That’s because the ballot campaign on its own will not determine the future of wolf hunting in Michigan.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan lawmakers recently went around two ballot proposals that sought to end wolf hunting in Michigan.

They passed a law that allows wolf hunts to continue, but they apparently didn't pass their law in time for a hunt this year.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press has it:

State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

This week we're joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Also sitting in is Michigan Radio's co-host of It's Just Politics, Zoe Clark.

We talk about the potential fallout from the Legislature's vote on wolf hunting and the latest poll numbers in Michigan's gubernatorial race. Listen to our discussion below.

IsleRoyaleWolf.org

Wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula will be able to continue under a new law passed by the state House today. Groups that oppose wolf hunting say state lawmakers are trying to thwart the will of voters.

To the chants of “Let us vote! It’s our right!” anti-wolf hunting groups rallied outside the state Capitol before the House took up the bill.

Many wolf hunt opponents complain state lawmakers are circumventing November's two referendums.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People for and against a wolf hunt in Michigan are at the state Capitol today.

Orange-wearing hunters are mixing with people waving signs calling for protecting Michigan’s wolves.

The state House is poised to vote on the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The act would open the door once again to wolf hunting. The state Senate has already voted in favor of the act.  

USFWS

Michigan hunters could find wolves in their crosshairs again later this year, if the state House approves legislation on Wednesday.

Last year, hunters killed 22 wolves in a state-sanctioned hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Plans for another wolf hunt this fall were shelved after opponents collected enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. They did so again when state lawmakers passed another law to authorize a wolf hunt.

Gray wolves.
USFWS / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has adopted a citizen petition initiative to allow wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula and overhaul wildlife management rules. It would let the Natural Resources Commission designate game animals, and make irrelevant two November questions before voters to decide the issue.

It cleared the Senate on a 23-10 mostly party vote.

The measure now goes to the state House, which could vote on it later this month.

*This post will be updated.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate is back in Lansing tomorrow for one day before resuming its summer recess.

It appears likely the Senate will vote on petition-initiated legislation to allow wolf hunting in Michigan, and give a state commission direct control over decisions on which species may be hunted.

The state House is expected to follow suit later this month.

The initiative is meant to circumvent two referenda on wolf-hunting laws adopted by the Legislature.

USFWS

The State Senate may vote this week on a proposal that could once again open the door to wolf hunting in Michigan.

Hunting groups collected enough petition signatures on a proposed law giving state wildlife officials total control on which animals will be hunted in Michigan.

Drew YoungeDyke is with Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He insists the hunting groups are not trying to outflank groups opposed to hunting wolves in Michigan.

Larry McGahey / Flickr

A petition that would allow future wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula is headed to the state Legislature.

The initiative would allow the hunts regardless of how two anti-wolf hunting referendums turn out.

A state elections board approved almost 300,000 petition signatures for the proposal today.

State lawmakers have 40 days to pass the measure. Otherwise, it will go on the statewide ballot in November.

Bob LaBrant is with the group that gathered the signatures. He says it’s clear the Legislature supports wolf hunting and will approve the measure.

“We think the Legislature, who’s already dealt with this subject twice only to be frustrated by referendums, will prevail in the end.”

The petition could still be challenged in court. Opponents of wolf hunting say it deals with too many issues unrelated to wolf hunting.

*This post has been updated.

This week, pretty much unnoticed, the deadline came and went for opponents to file challenges to petitions filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management campaign to initiate a law. This is part of the ongoing political battle over wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

The CPWM petition drive would create a new version of the law to allow wolf hunting, and it would take future decisions on designating game animals and put it with the state Natural Resources Commission instead of the Legislature.

Now, not everyone may recognize that petition campaign. But, if you signed a petition to oppose Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting in the UP. If you signed a petition to allow active duty military personnel to get free hunting and fishing licenses, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting.

USFWS Midwest

After spending months collecting signatures, hunting groups plan to deliver their petitions to the Secretary of State’s office tomorrow.

The petition is aimed at cementing a wolf hunt in Michigan law.

In November, voters will decide two ballot questions challenging state laws allowing the state to authorize a wolf hunt. Last year, nearly two dozen wolves were shot and killed by hunters in the Upper Peninsula during a state sanctioned wolf hunt.

Wolf hunt opponents say the hunt is unnecessary for a species just recently removed from the endangered list.

USFWS Midwest

Michigan hunters are in the final phases of collecting signatures on a statewide petition drive to allow the state’s controversial wolf hunt to continue.

Hunters killed 22 wolves in three specific zones in the Upper Peninsula last year. The hunt was the first after the gray wolf was removed from the endangered species list.

USFWS Midwest

There are fewer wolves living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

State wildlife biologists report a slight dip in the wolf population following last fall’s controversial hunt.

The Department of Natural Resources has just completed a census of wolves in the Upper Peninsula. The DNR admits the count is more of an estimate than an accurate head count.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission meets about a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted to allow a wolf hunt in Michigan, they did so with the idea that the hunt would help curb the number of so-called "problem wolves" in the Upper Peninsula – wolves that preyed on livestock owned by cattle farmers.

But MLive reporter John Barnes looked at the wolf predation records in the Upper Peninsula and found that one farmer accounted for the majority of predation reports.

USFWS Midwest

Once again, pollsters say a majority of Michiganders support a state sanctioned wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

Hunters killed 23 wolves last year in the state’s first official wolf hunt. State wildlife officials had set a goal of 43 wolves.

The controversial wolf hunt could be the subject of three questions on the November ballot.

A new poll by Marketing Resource Group of Lansing shows wolf hunt opponents may have more work to do to convince voters.

It looks like a referendum on the controversial issue of wolf-hunting is headed to the November ballot – again. This will be the second hunting-related ballot question (and, possibly, not the last) voters will decide in a little less than eight months.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign turned in petition signatures to the state Bureau of Elections just yesterday. It takes 161,305 signatures, and we can reasonably expect the campaign has enough names. Because, after all, they’ve done this before.

Most recently, just last year, when Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed enough signatures to suspend and challenge the first Michigan wolf hunting law adopted after the gray wolf was taken off the federal endangered species list. That is the first referendum challenge and it is already on the November ballot.

But the Legislature, as well as Gov. Rick Snyder, would not be thwarted. They adopted a second law to allow wolf hunting (among other things), and that is the target of this newest referendum campaign.

USFWS Midwest

Wolf hunt opponents plan to be out in force this weekend making a final push to collect signatures for a petition to put the wolf hunt question on the November ballot.

Jill Fritz is the director of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign. She admits they don’t know yet how many signatures they’ve collected so far.

“We won’t really know until we start to count them on March 5,” says Fritz. “But we do anticipate turning in enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.”

www.isleroyalewolf.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A scientist says one of the few remaining gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park has been found dead after escaping to the mainland across a Lake Superior ice bridge.

Michigan Technological University biologist Rolf Peterson tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that the 5-year-old female's body was discovered this month along the lakeshore on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota.

Peterson says the wolf wore a radio collar and its serial numbers confirmed her identity. Scientists had nicknamed her "Isabelle."

The cause of her death is unknown. Peterson says she apparently wasn't shot. She was wounded last year in attacks by other wolves.

Scientists hoped that mainland wolves would migrate to Isle Royale across ice bridges this winter but none have. The island's population now totals nine.

In 270 days – come Election Day 2014 – it’s not just candidates you’ll be voting for, there are likely to be plenty of ballot questions, too. And, much like 2012, when there were half a dozen ballot questions, we might just see a repeat of Ballot-o-palooza.

Ballot questions can sometimes get people who might not be super-invested in voting for a candidate to actually get out and vote for a particular issue. For example, 2004, when a slew of anti-gay marriage ballot proposals may very well have helped George W. Bush win reelection.

But it’s not easy to get ballot questions passed. Voters tend to shy away from passing new laws via ballot. In fact, if you don’t start out with more than a 60% approval of your question, the chances are you won’t win come Election Day.

In 2012, $154 million dollars were spent on ballot questions and yet all six were defeated.

Which raises the issue: Money spent on ballot questions is often money that would otherwise be spent on other campaigns. Thus, the decision to go to the ballot with a certain issue raises lots of questions: Is it the best use of money, personnel, volunteers? How will it affect turnout – that’s if it affects turnout at all.

What will this year’s dynamic be?

Well, look for news early next week on the minimum wage ballot drive that would initiate a law raising Michigan’s minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10 an hour.

USFWS Midwest

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials say most of the wolves killed in the recent Upper Peninsula hunt probably belonged to packs that have caused problems for people.

Adam Bump of the state Department of Natural Resources tells The Associated Press that 17 of the 23 kills happened in locations within territories of packs with reputations for "conflicts" such as preying repeatedly on livestock.

Bump says those locations typically were within five miles of a farm or other place where conflicts occurred.

Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

Michigan’s top wildlife officials were briefed today on last year’s controversial wolf hunt.

23 wolves were killed during the seven-week hunt. That’s well below the target of 43 wolves.

Adam Bump is the point man on wolves for the Department of Natural Resources. He delivered the briefing to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.  Bump says the DNR will take the next several months to evaluate how to improve future hunts.

USFWS Midwest

It’s been a month since hunters took to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to hunt wolves.

So far, the wolves have been doing better than expected.  

Since the start of the hunt, only about 20 wolves have been killed. That's less than half of the 43 wolves state wildlife officials set as the goal to be killed in the hunt.   The hunt ends December 31st. 

Adam Bump is the Department of Natural Resources’ point man on wolves.  He admits he’s not sure why hunters have had more success bagging wolves in some parts of the U.P. than in other parts.

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