HSUS SPENDS $240,000 ATTACKING MICHIGAN CONSERVATIONISTS
There’s a quiet battle brewing in Michigan, a battle between animal rights groups and Michigan conservationists.
In 1973, the gray wolf was deemed near extinction and listed on the Endangered Species Act for the lower 48. Today, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFW) estimate there are over 4,432 gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, USFW estimate nearly 700 wolves roam freely. To residents in the Upper Peninsula, this rising population of gray wolves has resulted in losses of farm animals, household pets, and a heightened feared of being attacked, themselves. Animal rights activists, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), became outraged when, in 2011, the USFW delisted the gray wolf from the Western Great Lakes endangered species list. The delisting didn’t automatically generate a hunting season; it simply gave states back the authority to implement proper wolf population management tools. Back in 1996, Michigan citizens voted overwhelmingly, with 68% support, to adopt Proposal G. Proposal G amended the state’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act and granted the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC), an appointed seven member board, authority to regulate the taking of game using sound scientific management. However, under the act, only the legislature could designate animals as game species. Classifying an animal as a ‘game species’ legally changes its definition and gives the NRC authority to use scientific reasoning to make wildlife management decisions, like a scheduled and/or limited hunting season. So, in December 28, 2012, Michigan Governor Strickland signed SB 1350 into law enlisting the gray wolf as a game species and creating a wolf management advisory committee. Still, at this point, no wolf hunting season had been established. Lawmakers were merely following the rules and procedures given to them directly by Michigan citizens in Proposal G that were required to enlist the gray wolf as a game species. These actions enraged HSUS, sparking a Michigan initiative petition campaign. The local group, “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected,” was known also as the cover-up for HSUS to funnel more than $240,000 pushing its radical agenda during the signature gathering process. All in all, the group raised nearly $500,000 in just a few short months. Meanwhile, Michigan Senator Tom Casperson sponsored SB 288 & 289 to ensure proper science and wildlife management practices take precedence over the agenda of the nation’s largest animal rights group, HSUS. SB 288 & 289 were strongly supported in the senate, passing by a vote of 25-11. They’ve since moved on to the Michigan House of Representatives for further debate. The Michigan House of Natural Resources met yesterday, Tuesday, April 30, for a public hearing on SB 288 & 289. Bill Moritz, Michigan Natural Resources Deputy for the Department of Natural Resources, spoke in favor of both legislative proposals. He mentioned that SB 288 would extend the voice of voters and Proposal G, which gives NRC the authority to designate an animal species as game. Jill Fritz, Michigan State Director for HSUS, spoke in obvious opposition, and when confronted by State Representative Ed McBroom, “Are you from the Upper Peninsula?” Fritz was forced to humbly admit, “No, I am not.” SB 289 specifically says,
“THE LEGISLATURE DECLARES THAT HUNTING, FISHING, AND THE TAKING OF GAME ARE A VALUED PART OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THIS STATE AND SHOULD BE FOREVER PRESERVED. THE LEGISLATURE FURTHER DECLARES THAT THESE ACTIVITIES PLAY AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE STATE'S ECONOMY AND IN THE CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION, AND MANAGEMENT OF THE STATE'S NATURAL RESOURCES.”
Thanks to local groups, like Michigan United Conservation Clubs, groups established to represent the voice of Michigan conservationists, SB 288 & 289 were both passed out of committee by a vote of 8-0. Michigan conservationists understand that in order to continue to preserve the gray wolf population and to keep land owners free from endangerment, utilizing wildlife management tools, like hunting, may be necessary. But, HSUS’ only aim is to “villainize” a wolf hunt and completely disregard the use of sound scientific management tools and the opinions of Michigan conservation experts. Michigan United Conservation Clubs, a group established to represent the voice of Michigan conservationists, is calling on people to support common sense and scientifically sound practices to manage the increasing wolf population in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.