Commission approves public wolf hunt in Upper Peninsula

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will meet today in Roscommon and are expected to make a final vote on a regulated wolf hunt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved a public wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula at their meeting in Roscommon this afternoon.

The commission voted 6-1 in favor of the wolf hunt.

The plan, which was suggested to the NRC from the Department of Natural Resources, would create a "regulated public harvest of wolves" from November 15 to December 31.

Fourty-three wolves would be hunted in three different regions in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Senate Bill 288, signed by the Gov. on Wednesday, gives the Natural Resources Commission the responsibility to establish managed open season hunts for wild game. It exempts the taking of mourning doves, pets and livestock.

The Legislature will maintain its ability to both add and remove species on the list.

"This action helps ensure sound scientific and biological principles guide decisions about management of game in Michigan," Snyder said. "Scientifically managed hunts are essential to successful wildlife management and bolstering abundant, healthy and thriving populations.

The legislation met plenty of opposition, however, from groups like the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition. The KMWP said the legislation was an attempt to run around a proposed referendum on wolf hunting.

"The legislature wants to silence the voice of Michigan voters, circumvent the democratic process and nullify the more than 255,000 signatures submitted to the Secretary of State's Office," said Jill Fritz, director of the KMWP coalition.

Michigan Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm group, however, applauded the signing of the legislation calling it a "triumph of science and reason over emotion stirred by out-of-state interests."

"Michigan voters' strong support for Proposal G in 1996 made it clear residents want oversight of wildlife management in the hands of experts," said Rebecca Park, legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau. "Despite what opponents to this legislation would have you believe, these bills are very much about respecting and reinforcing the people's will, not denying it."

"We welcome visitors from out-of-state to come enjoy the bounty of our woods and waters, but have to remain vigilant and draw a line when deep-pocketed activist groups try to tell us how to manage those resources," Park said.