State House votes on hunting bill this week; another wolf hunt could take place this year
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.
But on Wednesday, state lawmakers take up the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The act would give the Natural Resources Commission the authority to set hunting seasons. Hunting groups collected enough signatures to bring the bill to the legislature. The state Senate easily passed the bill earlier this month.
By going this route, the bill would circumvent the efforts of wolf hunt opponents to give voters the final say on whether wolves should be hunted in Michigan.
And the next wolf hunt may come quicker than you might expect.
In 2013, state wildlife officials spent months preparing for the hunt. They sold 1,200 licenses. They created three separate zones in the Upper Peninsula for the hunt. In the end, the hunt was marginally successful, with hunters killing only half the wolves state wildlife officials set as a target.
NRC chairman J.R. Richardson declined to speculate on whether the commission would try to schedule a wolf hunt for this year. However, a state wildlife agency spokesman says there would be enough time to schedule a hunt this fall, if NRC commissioners wanted to.