Clarification is needed on PA 21

To the editor:

As Yoopers and other Michiganians circulate petitions to repeal Michigan Public Act 21, it’s evident that clarification is needed on a few issues.If voters fail to reject PA21 of 2013, the right to referendum on wildlife management issues is gone forever.

Remember 2006? Voters in every county of Michigan rejected a hunting season on mourning doves. PA21 allows the Natural Resource Commission to designate any species as game and then establish a hunting season for it.

PA 21 silences the voice of the people. Some argue that the NRC, appointed by the Governor, knows best. Only one member of the NRC has a Natural Resources background. Don’t think for a moment the NRC isn’t politically influenced. Attention, birders. PA 21 applies to species not already on the “game species” list, except the mourning dove and federally-protected species. The sandhill crane, for example, could be next.

In Minnesota, the sandhill crane was named a game species; their fourth annual hunt begins this fall. View photos online of Minnesota hunters posing with their “harvested” sandhill cranes. As for Michigan, hundreds of sandhill cranes are already killed annually via crop damage permits; some sportsmen’s forums are already abuzz in hopes of hunting them. If PA 21 stays, and the sandhill crane is named a game species, voters’ hands will be tied. We could voice objections to our legislators, governor, and NRC, but would they listen?

Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan, in effect since January 2012, already allows for liberal management of wolves.

Wolf hunt or no wolf hunt, current management actions will continue.

Under Michigan’s wolf management plan, it’s permissible to kill wolves responsible for depredation as indicated:

Landowner permits: landowners can be issued as many as five permits and name their own “agents,” who can shoot any wolf on their property.

“In the act” of attacking livestock or dogs, by landowners without a permit. Though wolves pose little threat to humans, it’s always been legal to shoot a wolf threatening human life. The constitutional right Michigan voters had, from 1908 to May 2013, to voter referendum on wildlife management issues, is gone.

We have this one opportunity to get it back. Through the signature-gathering effort, spearheaded by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, we aim to reject PA21 and restore our right to protect not only wolves, but other species.

Jackie Winkowski, Wolfwatcher Adviser, Great Lakes Region