Anti-Hunting Petition Approved Despite Misleading LanguageJuly 16th, 2013
During their first referendum this year, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected misled people asked to sign their anti-hunting petition by telling them things that weren’t true about the upcoming wolf hunt. This time around, they’re misleading people right on the anti-hunting petition itself.
On July 12, the Board of Canvassers approved the form of the petitions to referendum Public Act 21 of 2013. This means that Keep Michigan Wolves Protected – a front group for the Humane Society of the United States – can begin collecting signatures, despite text on the signature page that will likely mislead people who are asked to sign it.
The summary text that is supposed to describe Public Act 21 (PA 21) appears above the signatures and reads:
A petition for a referendum election to reject Public Act 21 of 2013, which authorizes the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, whose members are appointed by the Governor, to designate animals, such as wolves, as game species. This referendum proposal is to be voted on at the General Election to be held November 4, 2014.
However, this description only focuses on one-third of what PA 21 does – authorize the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to designate game species – while leaving out the fact that it also grants the NRC authority to issue fisheries orders and allows military members to hunt and fish for free. Unless the people asked to sign the petition flip it over and read the full legislation on the back, they won’t know that they’re also signing a petition to remove the NRC’s authority to issue fisheries orders and that they’re taking away free licenses for military members.
The summary language also introduces language outside of the law being challenged – the fact that NRC members are appointed by the Governor – without also saying that the NRC is required to use sound science (by 1996’s Proposal G) or that their terms are staggered so that they are not all appointed by the same Governor. This cherry-picking in the summary text also extends to their use of the phrase, “such as wolves,” even though that phrase does not appear in the law. The only time the word “wolf” is used is in a list with 37 other existing game species.
The Board of Canvassers stated that they only approved the petition as to form, meaning the size of the paper, the size of the font, etc., and that they don’t evaluate the language. Additionally, there is text in the summary, as required, that states that the full legislation is printed on the back, but how many people asked to sign the petition do you think will actually read the full legislation? Once again, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and the Humane Society of the United States are trying to fool Michigan citizens, betting that they won’t take the time to read the full legislation on the back, and then trying to claim their own deceit as a mandate for their radical anti-hunting agenda.
After the whoppers their paid signature collectors and volunteers told during their first petition drive – such as that wolves would be shot from helicopters, that the population was “fragile” and that the hunt was only for “trophies” – we wondered how they would try to mislead people now that the actual regulations were set and which proved that Keep Michigan Wolves Protected was making things up.
Well, they’re still claiming that the population is “fragile,” even though its minimum winter population is more than triple the original recovery population (and the wolf population can double throughout the year). And they’re still lying about the hunt being about “trophies,” even though the Department of Natural Resources’ professional wildlife biologists designed it specifically to reduce wolf depredations and nuisance complaints in three distinct regions of the Upper Peninsula where other methods haven’t worked.
And now Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will be misleading people right in the text of the petitions by cherry-picking some details and hiding the rest where they don’t think anyone will look.
One of their talking points is their claim that PA 21 disregarded the “will of the people,” as if the people didn’t just elect the legislators who passed PA 21 in November, and as if they didn’t vote for the Governor who signed the law, the various governors who have appointed NRC members and Proposal G in 1996 to give the NRC its sound science mandate, and as if we don’t live in a representative democracy.
Michigan’s ballot referendum process was developed before the advent of paid signature gatherers. The signature requirements are supposed to be a bar to make sure that only those issues with the true grassroots support of the people of Michigan make it to the ballot. A referendum is supposed to be the exception, not the rule. But when campaigns can get pay signature collectors three dollars per signature – as Keep Michigan Wolves Protected admitted it was doing during its first referendum – just about anyone with half a million dollars can buy their way onto the ballot. That is not what the drafters of the Michigan Constitution intended.
If you want to talk about democracy and the will of the people, let’s do that. Because there is nothing more undemocratic than a group funded and staffed by radical out-of-state special interests paying a California firm to collect signatures from Michigan citizens by lying to them and misleading them on the very document they’re asked to sign. Michigan citizens deserve better than that, and so does Michigan’s wildlife. That’s why we voted in 1996 to manage game species using sound science, and that’s why we should continue managing Michigan’s fish and wildlife using sound science – not campaign ads – by declining to sign the misleading anti-hunting petition and keeping Public Act 21.