A wolf hunt is one step closer to reality in Michigan
The state House approved a bill that could block voters from deciding whether to allow wolf hunting in Michigan.
The measure passed 72-38 Thursday. It would allow the Natural Resources Commission to decide which types of wildlife can be hunted. Currently, only the legislature has that power.
If Michigan does have a wolf hunt, it would be limited to three areas of the Upper Peninsula. The Department of Natural Resources recommended a controlled hunt with the goal of killing only a few dozen wolves total. The hunt could take place as early as this fall, if approved.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, who said wolves are causing problems and sparking safety concerns in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Casperson told MLive.com people are "living in fear" and have to consider whether they should let their children play in their backyards.
Supporters also cite threat to livestock, pets and families as a reason for a wolf hunt.
Opponents say it's an attempt to run around a proposed referendum on wolf hunting. They say lawmakers want to get the measure passed before the state Board of Canvassers certifies they've collected enough signatures for a 2014 statewide vote.
The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition is urging Gov. Rick Snyder not to sign the measure.
"The legislature wants to silence the voice of Michigan voters, circumvent the democratic process and nullify the more than 255,00 signatures submitted to the Secretary of State's Office," said Jill Fritz, director of KMWP coalition.
If enough signatures are deemed valid, no wolf hunt could be held until after the referendum.
The measure passed in the Senate last week and will soon head to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.