State Props 1, 2 deserve support from electorate
Yes votes on Proposals 1 and 2 on Tuesday will reaffirm public support for scientific wildlife management in Michigan by the Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Natural Resources Commission, which was done first during 1996 with the passage of Proposal G and then again in August of this year with the passage of the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act by the Legislature.
Proposal G, which was approved by 69 percent of the voters, gave the authority to the Natural Resources Commission to make wildlife management decisions, with advice from DNR professionals.
That system has served Michigan wildlife management well over the years and will continue to do so in the future. That’s why there have not been efforts to put deer hunting, rabbit hunting, squirrel hunting and many other forms of hunting on the state ballot.
The statewide ballot is primarily for electing members of the Legislature to represent us. And those Legislators represented the majority of voters of this state when they passed the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in August.
This citizen initiative was supported by the signatures of almost 300,000 registered voters before receiving positive votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
The newly approved act, which will go into effect by March, has the same effect as Proposal G, allowing the NRC to name game species and issue fisheries orders based on sound science advice from DNR biologists.
The recently approved act, in fact, will be the deciding factor when it comes to future wildlife management decisions, regardless of how the votes on Proposals 1 and 2 turn out. Yes votes on those proposals, however, would confirm one more time the level of support among the citizens of Michigan for professional wildlife management of all species.
The opponents of the two proposals on the ballot have built their campaign on a platform of false and misleading information that crumbles under the weight of facts.
They portray hunters, the DNR and NRC as the bad guys when it comes to wolf management, when, in fact, they are the good guys in the state’s wolf management story. Without the support of hunters, the DNR and NRC, Michigan would not have the healthy, growing wolf population that it does.
And the limited, carefully controlled wolf hunt that was held in the state during 2013 and any others that may occur in the future, were not and will not be “sport,” “trophy” or “recreational” hunts.
They are “management” or “conflict reduction” hunts designed to reduce conflicts between wolves and humans that, in no way, threaten the future presence of wolves in the Upper Peninsula.
That’s what scientific wildlife management is all about and voters know only too well that the professionals are the best ones to make those decisions.
The DNR estimates of the number of adult wolves present in the UP changed little between 2013 and 2014 even though a hunt was held last fall, which confirms that controlled hunts do not threaten the region’s wolf population.
An estimated minimum population of wolves in the U.P. during 2013 was 658 compared to 636 in 2014 before pups were born. With the birth of pups this year, the population would have exceeded 1,000 during the spring and summer.
Not all of those pups will survive, but enough will to allow the population to increase without the option of tightly controlled hunts where and when needed as a management tool.
Many people feel that wolves have already reached their social carrying capacity (number acceptable to the public). Allowing the population to continue to increase is irresponsible.
Most people who are opposed to controlled wolf hunts in the UP have a view of wolves that is out of touch with reality. A letter to the editor of The Mining Journal that was published on Sept. 19 is a prime example.
Here’s part of the wording of the first sentence: ” now they want to hunt them for fun, no matter if they harm or kill anything.”
Wolves make a living by killing things. They kill whatever they can whenever they can to survive including moose and their calves, deer and their fawns, black bears and their cubs, livestock, hunting dogs and pets. They even kill each other.
And the first wolf attack on a human happened in the U.P. on June 29 in Gogebic County when a researcher was trying to put a radio collar on a wolf.
Editor’s note: Richard P. Smith is a writer and outdoorsman from the Marquette area.