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Michigan’s Inaugural Wolf Hunt Debuts in November

In recent years, farmers and residents have complained about wolf attacks on livestock and family pets as the population continues to grow and expand its range. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had been pushing for a limited hunt to help reduce the number of wolves in parts of the Upper Peninsula, home to an estimated 658 wolves.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on May 8 signed a bill empowering the Natural Resources Commission to decide whether to allow wolf hunting.  A day after Snyder signed Senate Bill 288 into law, the commission, on a 6 to 1 vote,  approved regulations for Michigan's inaugural wolf hunt this fall, making Michigan the sixth state to authorize the hunting of wolves since federal protections were removed.  It set the total harvest at 43 animals.

Animal protection groups did their best to force a statewide vote on the issue. The state Board of Canvassers on May 22 certified petition signatures gathered by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected to put a wolf hunting referendum  before voters in Nov. 2014. Although 161,305 valid signatures were needed to qualify for the ballot, referendum supporters collected 255,000 signatures by the March 27 deadline. The ballot measure was rendered moot, however, with the signing of the bill on May 8.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected  wanted to suspend Public Act 520 which designated wolves as a game species.  Under previous law, only the Michigan Legislature had the power to designate a game species. It was then up to the Natural Resources Commission to determine if there should be a hunting season. The only dissenter was Commissioner Annoesjka Steinman of Muskegon, whom Snyder appointed to the seven-member panel last year.

The Upper Peninsula's first wolf hunt is scheduled between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31. The harvest of  43 wolves - roughly 7 percent of the estimated herd,  is restricted to three zones.  Zone one includes a portion of Gogebic County and the city of Ironwood. The second zone encompasses portions of Baraga, Houghton, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties while the third hunting zone is in portions of Luce and Mackinac counties.

© 2020 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Aaron M. Phelps, Varnum, litigation attorney

For over 15 years, Aaron's practice has been focused on complex commercial and environmental litigation - in Michigan and around the country. Aaron has represented clients in contract and corporate governance disputes, telecommunications and energy matters, health care litigation, and tort actions.

Over the last five years, Aaron has represented over 200 companies in lawsuits against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for ERISA violations. The first trial resulted in a $6 million judgment, and subsequent judgments ranged from $315,000 to over $8 million. Currently...