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April 25, 2013

Senate Passes Bill that Threatens Voting Rights and Michigan’s Wildlife

Political power grab attacks citizen participation in democratic decision making

The Michigan Senate passed legislation Thursday to block voters from having a say in whether non-game animals, such as wolves and sandhill cranes and others, are designated as game species for hunting and trapping. SB 288 is an attempt to prevent Michigan voters from deciding whether to protect the state’s fragile and declining wolf population from trophy hunting and commercial trapping, but has wide-ranging consequences for voting rights on other wildlife issues.
 
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States said: “So hungry to kill wolves, Michigan politicians are diluting their own authority to pass game species policy by granting this power to a handful of political appointees, who are accountable to no one. If passed, this unelected panel could ignore the will of the people and allow the hunting of wolves and other animals, regardless of what the voters say on these matters. Voters must let House members and Governor Snyder know that this policy change is unacceptable.”
 
SB 288, introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and its House counterpart bill, HB 4552, introduced by Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, are a direct attack on Michigan’s voting rights and would circumvent Michiganders’ efforts to protect traditional non-game and endangered wildlife in their state.
 
After the legislature passed a lame duck measure to permit wolf hunting, a coalition of wildlife advocates, conservationists and Native American tribes gathered and submitted 253,705 signatures of Michigan citizens who wanted the state’s voters to decide whether to list wolves as a game species.
 
The legislation was amended in the Senate to prevent the Natural Resources Commission from adding the mourning dove to the list of game species, in recognition of the landslide vote in 2006 rejecting the legislature’s dove hunting bill. The same recognition needs to be given to the more than quarter-million Michigan voters who signed petitions to place the wolf hunting referendum on the statewide ballot, and to voters who don’t want to be silenced on other wildlife protection measures.
 
The HSUS is urging all Michigan residents to call their state representative and Gov. Rick Snyder and ask them to reject this political power grab.
 
Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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