A new poll shows strong support for a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.
Michigan’s gray wolves have rebounded from near extinction in the U.P. Last winter, Michigan’s gray wolf population was estimated at 658. But as the wolf population has grown, so have the number of attacks on livestock and household pets.
Next month, Michigan will hold a limited wolf hunt.
The hunt will take place in three specific zones of the U.P. The zones have seen the most problems with wolves.
In all, state wildlife officials want to kill 43 wolves in the hunt.
Between Oct. 6th and 10th, 600 likely Michigan voters were asked:
Hunting wolves was declared against the law when they became an endangered species in Michigan several years ago. Now, however, the number of wolves has gotten large enough that claims are being made that the wolves are attacking other animals and pose a threat to people in small rural areas and should be reduced in number. With this background, do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose legislation that would allow a limited hunting season on wolves?
Statewide, 67% of people said they support the wolf hunt. 26% said they opposed the hunt.
The metro Detroit region was the only part of the state with less than 50% support for the hunt.
David Doyle is the executive vice president of Marketing Resource Group. MRG conducted the poll with Mitchell Research. Doyle says the poll suggests, if an election were held today, wolf hunt opponents would have a difficult time convincing Michigan voters to protect the wolves.
“I think (the poll’s result) has a lot to do with the reputation of the animal,” says Doyle.
Doyle admits the poll is a snapshot of public opinion. But he adds that it suggests wolf hunt supporters may not have to wage an expensive campaign to convince voters to allow future hunts.
The poll was commissioned by Inside Michigan Politics.
“The Humane Society of the United States may have bitten off more than they can chew by bankrolling the campaign to protect wolves in Michigan,” says Bill Ballenger, Associate Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, “It won’t take many ads showing a snarling wolf to convince people that a limited hunt is justified in Michigan.”
Wolf hunt opponents criticize the poll.
“No legitimate polling company would ever ask such a weighted question, clearly designed to misrepresent the views of the voters of Michigan,” says Jill Fritz, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, “The poll is intentionally trying to misrepresent the views of the voters of this state. It has only one question, clearly designed for an outcome that is not representative of how the voters of Michigan feel.”
The wolf hunt has been the subject of two statewide referendum petition drives. The first collected more than a quarter million signatures. A vote on that referendum is set for November 2014. But state lawmakers passed a second law to circumvent that referendum. Wolf hunt opponents are once again collecting signatures, but they will not be able to prevent this fall’s hunt.