Outfoxed on Michigan Wolves

WolfstalkThere’s been a fight in many states over how to manage the resurgent wolf populations. The gray wolf, which was once hunted to near extinction, has through the past few decades made a substantial recovery and is no longer endangered in certain areas of the US. That has led some states to propose different management plans, because wolves can, for example, kill animals on ranches.

Michigan planned to have a limited wolf hunting season to help manage the population of the predator. But this was reflexively opposed by HSUS, an organization that is against hunting—its CEO has even spoken against hunting for food. What’s happened since has been a bit of gamesmanship.

Essentially, the Michigan legislature allowed for the hunting of wolves (there are estimated to be 600 in the Upper Peninsula) after the delisting of the animals. HSUS tried to start a ballot measure to overturn this law. Then, the legislature passed a second law to neutralize this HSUS initiative. HSUS then started a second initiative to overturn this law.

Then, hunting and conservation advocates started their own initiative, proposing a law that would neutralize the second HSUS ballot measure. They turned in about 300,000 signatures last month, and the initiative was sent to the legislature for consideration. (The legislature has 40 days to either approve the bill or put it on the ballot.) Yesterday, the Michigan Senate approved the measure, and the House is expected to do so within two weeks.

In other words, HSUS’s two initiative drives will be pointless. HSUS will have been outmaneuvered.

And how much money has HSUS spent? HSUS has spent over $1 million itself, and its legislative arm has poured another $1 million-plus into the measure, according to campaign finance records. That’s close to 80% of the money raised by the campaign committee.

Keep in mind that the state of Michigan only authorized 43 wolves to be taken last year, and only 22 were harvested. So that works out to around $100,000 per wolf.

That’s a pretty big waste of money to oppose a hunt that was set up by the state’s conservation agency—wildlife experts who know what they’re doing. That’s $2 million that could have gone towards helping needy cats and dogs find homes. Instead, a significant opportunity was lost.