Tom Casperson

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A bill that would forbid the state Department of Natural Resources from considering biodiversity along with other uses of state lands, such as public recreation, or logging rights, is moving swiftly in the state Legislature.

More than 130 researchers who oppose it hope Gov. Rick Snyder will veto the bill.

Wood burning stove.
Rich Misner / Flickr

Michigan may soon pick a fight with the Environmental Protection Agency over wood burning stoves.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 12 million wood and pellet stoves. The EPA estimates wood stoves contribute about 13% of the nation’s soot pollution. 

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.

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.

Why hunt wolves?

Nov 26, 2013

As you probably know by now, Michigan last year declared wolves a game animal, and, for the first time in more than 40 years, is allowing hunters to shoot them in some parts of the Upper Peninsula.

Hunting has become a controversial sport. But I don’t think I’ve seen any hunting issue as controversial as this year’s wolf hunt.

Jill Fritz, the Michigan state director of the Humane Society of the United States, is the informal leader of the anti-hunting forces, but she isn‘t alone. Professor John Vucetich, for example, a forest and environmental expert at Michigan Technological University, says flatly, “There is no scientific evidence to suggest that wolves need to be hunted.” He added, “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.”

Nancy Warren

Opponents of this month’s scheduled wolf hunt are preparing for Friday’s start of the hunt.

The hunt will take place in three specific zones of the Upper Peninsula. State wildlife officials hope hunters will kill 43 wolves during the hunt. There are an estimated 658 wolves in the U.P.

Jill Fritz is the state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“We’ll just continue to educate the public about this and make sure the people know that this entire wolf hunt that is happening is based on lies, deception and fear mongering,” says Fritz.

HSUS

Beginning tomorrow, Michigan hunters will start laying down $100 for a license to hunt wolves in the Upper Peninsula this fall.    

State wildlife officials admit they don’t know if the wolf hunt licenses will sell out.   The licenses will be available for hunters as young as 10 years old and from out of state. 

1,200 licenses are being sold for the wolf hunt which starts November 15.

It’s the first wolf hunt since the gray wolf rebounded from near extinction in the Upper Peninsula.   

But along with people buying wolf hunting licenses, there will be people working this weekend to protect the wolves.

Jill Fritz is with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.  Her group is collecting signatures on a petition to put a challenge to the wolf hunt law on next year’s ballot.

“We’re encountering an enthusiastic public everywhere we go.  Whether we’re out in front of a library in Marquette or at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids,” says Fritz. 

The Department of Natural Resources has set a goal of killing 43 wolves in this fall’s hunt.  The hunt will take place in 3 separate zones in the Upper Peninsula.

Supporters say the U.P.’s growing wolf population is threatening livestock and household pets. Detractors complain the hunt will indiscriminately kill wolves and may make wolf attacks on livestock more common.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the race for the Senate seat left vacant by Carl Levin, legislation that would allow a wolf hunt despite a petition against it, and Governor Snyder's call for businesses to become more directly involved in schools.

I don’t know whether it makes sense to ever allow people to hunt wolves in the Upper Peninsula or not. Nor do I have any strong emotional feeling about this. 

Personally, I don’t see killing things that can’t fight back as a sport. But I have also, years ago, interviewed farmers and ranchers who lost livestock to wolves.

I’m not sure whether it would be more dangerous to be a pen with a wolf or in a room with one of those ranchers if you told him you wanted to outlaw his right to hunt down wolves.

Lots of people, however, do have very strong feelings about this, and about bills now before the legislature that would allow the government to say what species could be hunted.

Not only that, the bill now in the senate would cleverly take away the people’s right to ever repeal this bill, or to designate a protected species, as the voters did with mourning doves a few years ago. That strikes me as unethical and unfair.

USFS

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The State Department of Natural Resources has been in the planning process of this idea to create what it calls Biodiversity Stewardship Areas.

These areas would include both state and private land.

All the stakeholders were on board in the early planning process - hunting groups, environmentalists - most everyone - until someone became alarmed because the plan could have potentially stopped human access to some areas.

Well, if you even hint that hunters or timber companies can’t have access, you’ve got a problem.

State Senator Tom Casperson (R- Escanaba) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside an area of land specifically for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity.

In part it reads:

THE DEPARTMENT, DIRECTOR, OR COMMISSION SHALL NOT PROMULGATE OR ENFORCE A RULE OR ISSUE OR ENFORCE AN ORDER UNDER THIS ACT THAT DESIGNATES OR CLASSIFIES AN AREA OF LAND SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING OR MAINTAINING BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY...

According to Casperson, the MDNR should request approval for each proposal from the State Legislature.

“It’s not that they can’t do it, but it needs oversight,” Casperson said in an interview with Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham.

The U.S. Forest Service says that Savoy Energy has informed federal agencies it's withdrawing an application to drill below a site called the Mason Tract in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.
user {inercia} / Flickr

The state Senate passed a controversial bill this week.

Senate Bill 78 would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside an area of land specifically to maintain biological diversity. Basically, that means protecting the variety of plants and animals that live in an area.

Senator Tom Casperson sponsored the bill. He has argued that the DNR has too much authority to set aside land.

Here's what the bill would do (excerpted from the Senate Fiscal Agency floor summary):

--Prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Commission from promulgating or enforcing a rule or an order that designates or classifies an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
-- Delete the conservation of biological diversity from the DNR's duties regarding forest management, and require the Department to balance its forest management activities with economic values.
-- Eliminate a requirement that the DNR manage forests in a manner that promotes restoration.
-- Provide that a State department or agency would not have to designate or classify an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
-- Delete a legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.

Critics of the bill say it could tie the DNR’s hands.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Detroit Council working on plan to counter emergency manager

The council will meet this morning. The Detroit News reports they want to hear more from Mayor Dave Bing:

The full panel plans to meet at 9 a.m. today to study its options for appealing Gov. Rick Snyder's determination that the city is in a financial emergency, paving the way for an emergency manager.

Council members have asked Bing to come to the table and said they may vote on a response to the governor by Thursday. The city has until Monday to appeal.

Bill aimed at stripping DNRs power to manage for biodiversity clears Senate

Senator Tom Casperson-R (Escanaba) has a victory. His bill, Senate Bill 78, would keep the Michigan Department of natural resources from setting aside land for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity. The Senate passed that bill along a party line vote. 26 Republicans for, 11 Democrats against. You can read more about this legislation from Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams.

Lansing casino project loses court decision

A federal judge has issued an injunction last night against the tribe that wants to build the casino - the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody has been following this story:

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker granted the state's motion for an injunction pending resolution of the Attorney General's lawsuit. The judge says the tribe cannot apply to the federal government "to have the … property taken into trust unless and until it obtains a written revenue sharing agreement with the other federally-recognized Indian Tribes in Michigan."

Here’s a little episode in Michigan history that you probably don’t know, and about which we have reason to be ashamed.

If you could take a time machine back to Petoskey in the spring 1878, you would have seen a stunning sight. An immense flock of passenger pigeons descended from the skies to form the world’s largest recorded wild pigeon roost.