Critics of KMWP say that the ultimate goal of the animal advocacy group is to ban hunting in Michigan, rather than just that of the wolf season.
Conservationists and hunters declared victory in Michigan on Wednesday as the state Legislature voted to pass The Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The citizen-initiated act, which among other things protects the state’s wolf season from attempts to stop the hunt, automatically became law after it passed the state House and will take effect next year at the earliest. While the 65-43 vote by House members on Wednesday was cause for celebration from those that supported the hunt, it was a shock to the animal rights organizations that opposed the season.
“What the Legislature passed today is a patently unconstitutional measure and we’re going to sue and knock it out,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP), in a press release.
The controversy started last year when Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission approved of a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, where residents say that the predators have become a problem. The state’s Department of Natural Resources agreed, and opened an inaugural hunt that ended with 23 wolves harvested. Although biologists say that the hunt is not likely to have an effect on the species’s overall population, which is believed to be upward of 630 in the Upper Peninsula, organizations like KMWP and the Humane Society of the United States widely opposed the hunt, calling it dangerous to an already vulnerable species. KMWP attempted to halt last year’s hunt with a referendum, but was thwarted when new legislation was passed to grant the Natural Resources Commission authority to designate game species, a power previously reserved to only legislators.