A group seeking to reverse the state’s Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which took effect last month, has filed a lawsuit in Michigan Court of Claims with a goal of ending the state’s wolf hunt.
The group, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, cites that the Act is too broad in its scope and would transfer the ultimate decision on wolf hunting in the state to the Natural Resources Commission– the designated agency to manage Michigan’s conservation laws.
“The proponents of this misleading legislation combined several unrelated issues into the law such as funding for the control of Asian carp and free hunting licenses to members of the active military,” said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected in a statement obtained by Michigan Sportsman. “It was a cynical and veiled attempt to prevent Michigan voters from having a say on hunting of wolves and other animals.”
The suit, filed in Lansing, challenges the state and sides with a federal court ruling last December to keep wolves on the endangered species list in Michigan. They want to designate the animals as “threatened,” which would be a step down from “endangered,” which would allow some livestock protection measures but not for an open season.
In December 2014, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell agreed with anti-hunting groups and returned protection of Great Lakes wolves to the Endangered Species Act, a decision that led to the current ban on wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In all some 3,700 wolves belong in a population spread across the tristate area.
As reported last month by Michigan Sportsman, that case was brought by the Humane Society of the United States, a group characterized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as a radical anti-hunting organization with millions socked away in offshore banks and a serious dislike of traditional shooting sports and game harvest methods.
Currently the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has filed appeals in that case.
DNR has not commented on the latest challenge by the wolf group, but in a release issued two weeks ago cited a possible increase in wolf predation on moose calves due to the region’s lowered deer population as being responsible for the decline in moose numbers.
DNR has likewise completed a draft update of the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan and is seeking public comment during a 30-day period that runs out this week. The draft was compiled from over 3,000 comments received by the agency last year and an internal review.