Stateside
4:36 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

The controversy around a wolf hunt in Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder has signed Senate Bill 288. That could clear the way for a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

His signature clears the way for the state's Natural Resources Commission to vote on a recommendation to hold a limited wolf hunt this fall in three parts of the UP.

The Governor told Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith that he believes the NRC will base its decision on what he called "sound scientific principles."

"If you think about it, I think sound scientific principals are how we should decide these things, to make sure we are doing the proper environmental functions that protect whatever species we're talking about, so it's sustainable for the long term," said Snyder.

More than quarter of a million Michiganders  signed a petition asking to put a wolf hunt proposal on the November 2014 ballot. And the coalition called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says Senate Bill 288 is a deliberate attempt by lawmakers to circumvent their petition effort.

The Governor's response?

"The Legislature decided they wanted to move ahead with allowing the National Resources Commission to use scientific principles. I've always been a fact-based, data-based person and I think those are good principles for public comment. And that's a situation where if people don't like it, they can look at that as a law they want to challenge," said Snyder.

We should note Senate Bill 288 does not contain a spending appropriation which makes it possible for opponents to try to repeal that law.

The wolf hunt issue has touched a very raw nerve all throughout Michigan - from people deeply opposed to a hunt, people who say this is about a trophy, not about conservation - to people in the Upper Peninsula who insist that folks who live downstate don’t have a clue what it’s like to live near a wolf population - to people who express anger that voters no longer have a say in what species gets hunted and what doesn’t: that power now lies in the hands of the Natural Resources Commission which can act without any fear of being voted out of office.

We wanted to get the thoughts of a scientist who is also someone who knows the Upper Peninsula.

So we turned to Professor John Bruggink. He's a wildlife biologist from Northern Michigan University. His area of expertise is the ecology and management of wildlife population. He joined us from Marquette.

Listen to the full interview above.