Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Letter: Support petition drive for referendum on PA 21 and wolf hunt

Photo of wolf courtesy wolfwatcher.org. Reprinted with permission.

Please support the petition drive to help repeal Public Act 21.

It’s not just about the wolves. Passage of PA 21 means that Michigan voters can no longer appeal the naming of any animal as a game species, a right we’d held since 1908. How did we get to this point?

In December 2012, the Michigan legislature enacted PA 520 designating the wolf as a game animal and authorized the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to establish a wolf hunt. More than 255,000 signatures were collected from citizens opposed to the hunt and were submitted in March of this year, earning PA 520 a place on the November 2014 ballot. This also meant there could be no wolf hunt before the votes were in.

Senator Tom Casperson introduced SB 288 in April, crafting a bill that would allow the Natural Resources Commission, in addition to the legislature, to add animals to the list of game species. As a politically appointed, regulatory body, NRC’s decisions cannot be subjected to a referendum. Governor Snyder signed SB 288, now known as PA 21, into law on May 8, enabling the NRC to reinstate the hunt, which they have done.

The citizens of Michigan have a constitutional right to challenge any recently passed legislation, with the exception of instances where the attached appropriations are vital to the functioning of our state government. The escalating use of appropriations to subvert the ability of citizens to utilize this important system of checks and balances, with notable examples being the Emergency Financial Manager and Right-to-Work laws, is a huge concern.

With the introduction of SB288/PA 21, Casperson found yet another way to undermine democracy. He said he did it to protect Michigan citizens from special interest groups like the Humane Society and to ensure that the people of the Upper Peninsula are heard. He neglected to mention that groups like Safari International lobbied for a wolf hunt, and that he has effectively silenced the voices of the more than 255,000 Michigan residents who signed the petition to subject PA 520 to referendum.

Our choices now are to lie down and take it, or dust ourselves off and fight for our right to vote on wildlife management issues. Repealing PA 21 and PA 520 will restore that right.  What we cannot do is repeal the current wolf hunt so speedily established by the NRC.  There will be wolves killed in Michigan this fall. Whether or not you think wolves should be "harvested," this is an outrage. And with their new found authority, we can expect the NRC to add the sandhill crane and possibly lynx to the list of game species to be hunted.

During First Friday events in Calumet on Sept. 6, 2013, Diane Miller, left, collects signatures on the petition for a referendum on PA 21 -- the second petition drive to allow Michigan voters to decide whether a wolf should be a game species. Signing the petition on Fifth Street in Calumet are, from left, Nancy Sprague, Bill Sewell and Oren Tikkanen. See below to learn how you can sign the petition. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The repeal of PA 520 will be on the November 2014 ballot and the petition drive to repeal PA 21 is underway. To learn more about the current campaign, go to http://keepwolvesprotected.com/. If you wish to help by gathering signatures, click on  Gather Signatures so you can obtain petition sheets. It is not necessary to write a letter of endorsement. If you are in the Marquette area and wish to sign the petition, please email me at brinkleycourt@yahoo.com. You just need to be a Michigan voter to sign it.

Catherine Parker
Marquette, Michigan

Editor's Notes:

Several people in the local area are collecting signatures for the petition on PA 21. You may contact Diane Miller in the Houghton / Hancock area by calling her at 906-370-1069 and she will arrange to help you sign the petition. She will also be at the Parade of Nations on Sept. 14 collecting signatures from Michigan voters.

UPDATE: In addition, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will have a table during the Parade of Nations events at the Dee Stadium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, for Michigan voters who wish to sign the petition there.

Chris Alquist, who works in the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, also has petition sheets you  may request to sign in the library.

In the Marquette area, Jackie Winkowski of Gwinn, Great Lakes advisor for Wolfwatcher, is also collecting signatures. You may email her at jwsnowyplains@yahoo.com.

Other petition gathering events are listed on the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Web site. Click here to find an event near you.

UPDATE: Anyone interested in signing a petition personally can request a petition form via U.S. mail by emailing katie@keepwolvesprotected.com, or call KMWP at 517-993-5201.

UPDATE: Charlotte Loonsfoot of KBIC is now collecting petition signatures in Baraga. You can call her at 906-235-4220 and she will arrange for you to sign it.

Jackie Winkowski has written a letter to the editor on this issue, published in the September 2013 Marquette Monthly. She gives more details on the reasons for the petition drive. Click here and scroll down to read her letter under City Notes.

See also our Aug. 25, 2013, article, "Wolf advocates kick off second petition drive, seek referendum on Michigan wolf hunt law."

Visit wolfwatcher.org for more information and articles on wolf protection.

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