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Resident wants to ban wolf hunting

February 13, 2013 - After the senate passed a bill designating the Gray Wolf a game species on December 28, Independence Township resident Eileen Drenikowski started collecting signatures on a petition to Keep Wolves Protected.

"We really want to take every precaution necessary to prevent the gray wolf from becoming extinct," she said. If Drenikowski gets enough people to sign, Michigan's voters will have a chance to cast their ballot for or against wolf hunting in 2014.

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there are almost 700 wolves in the state. On January 27, the gray wolf was removed from the federal endangered species list. From Drenikowski's point of view, "their numbers are still too low to introduce an open season."

She thinks Michigan politicians have bowed to special interests seeking to hunt wolves for trophies because the law already allows property owners to kill wolves if they are caught attacking livestock or pets. "People don't eat wolf meat; it is just for the pelts," she said and points out that she's not against all hunting. In fact, "hunters have signed my petition."

The DNR has a different perspective, however.

"People who are circulating petitions are sometimes saying that we're talking about a trophy hunt; that's not what's on the table here. What's being discussed is a management hunt for the purpose of resolving conflicts between farmers and wolves," said Ed Golder, the DNR's media representative.

According to Golder, hunts would be focused only in targeted areas where wolves are known to be a problem, particularly in western portions of the Upper Peninsula. Although Golder is aware that wolves can be killed if they are seen attacking livestock or pets, "catching a wolf doing that is tough," he said.

As for the Keep Wolves Protected petition, Golder said, "managing wildlife is a complex issue, and it is something that should be done by scientists. Managing wildlife through a ballot referendum we don't think is a good idea."

Drenikowski's petition is backed by about forty-five organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, the Detroit Audobon Society, and the Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network.

While she feels special interests were behind the hunting bill, Golder suggests advocacy groups caused wolves to remain on the endangered species list for too long. "We really think delisting occurred very late," he stated.

As for the wolf hunting legislation passing prior to the gray wolf's removal from the protected list, Golder said, "it may seem as though Michigan is moving quickly, but Wisconsin and Minnesota have already had wolf hunts. So, I think we're moving in a very deliberate and thoughtful fashion."

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