68
      Monday
      85 / 63
      Tuesday
      89 / 70
      Wednesday
      90 / 68

      Signatures needed to save wolves, voter rights

      Protesters asked to leave tribal land.

      The issue of wolf protection vs. wolf hunting has been in and out of the headlines. It??s all surrounding a couple bills passed by Legislature, as well as two petitions to counter those bills.

      It can get pretty confusing. While it may seem complicated, the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected group says the latest referendum simply looks to restore wolf protections the state has had in place for over 50 years. They held a meeting in Harbor Springs Friday night to spread the word.

      Let??s break it down:

      • A bill passed by state legislators allowed the Natural Resources Commission to designate animals as game species without voter approval.
      • Volunteers for wolf protection gathered the signatures needed to counter that bill. The first referendum appearing on the November 2014 ballot, gives citizens the option to repeal the law that makes wolves a game species.
      • After that referendum was added to the ballot, legislators passed another bill putting the NRC in charge of the game species designation decision.
      • Now, wolf protection advocates are working to place another referendum on the 2014 ballot, giving the choice back to the people.

      ??It's not only about wolves,?? said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. ??It's about protecting all wildlife and getting our rights to vote on important wildlife issues. Michigan citizens deserve a right to have a say in things like whether wolves should be a game species or not.??

      Mike Marcusen doesn't agree. He was among a group of protesters who came down from the Upper Peninsula to let his voice be heard. He says those big decisions should be left to the people in charge.

      ??The NRC should have control,?? said Marcusen. ??The Department of Natural Resources?? biologists are the main ones who are continually collecting the data on it.??

      Because the wolf is a very important part of Native American culture, the people who run the Governmental Center in Harbor Springs did not feel comfortable with the protesters on the grounds. The tribal police showed up and the protesters were asked to leave the land where the meeting was being held.

      The meeting Friday night was for people who want to help get the signatures needed for the issue to make it on the November 2014 ballot. They received a lot of information as well as packets with the petitions.

      One volunteer 7&4 spoke with said she once saw a wolf in a hunter's trap, back when the species was still endangered, and that fueled her desire to protect the animals.

      ??That sight was enough for me. It was a game changer in my life. It was enough for me to get involved,?? said Michele Burian, a Harbor Springs resident.

      If everything goes according to the wolf protection group's plans, there will be two proposals on the November 2014 ballot.

      If you'd like to sign one of the petitions, volunteers will be at the Sutton's Bay Art Festival this weekend. Next weekend they'll be in Northport.

      So far, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected thinks it has enough support. ??I think we'll be very successful,?? said Fritz. ??The people of Michigan have already demonstrated in our first referendum that they very much oppose the hunting of wolves in our state.??