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Anti-Hunting Petition Approved Despite Misleading Language

July 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.

  • Tessa Jean

    Let me dig around in my pocket and see if I can find a hanky for you to cry your river of tears into. I’ve never seen a group so full of sour grapes. You didn’t get your way so you are throwing a state wide temper tantrum. It’s pitiful to watch.
    Everytime your group talks about this issue you neglect to mention all the IN STATE Michigan citizens who worked on this issue and continue to work on this issue. It’s really a shame that you think voters are too stupid to think and vote for themselves or even *gasp* READ!

  • Michigan Citizens

    Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and HSUS are pitiful to watch, even harder to believe that people support these groups at all. Very pitiful indeed.

    • Bruce Welnetz

      At one time, MUCC was a good organization. So was the NRA. But then, they were changed by money, politics and propaganda. Both MUCC and the NRA have become too extreme. Very pitiful indeed. Only the uniformed support them now.

      • Shay

        You have to wear a uniform to support the MUCC and NRA? Hmm, I wasn’t aware….

    • Shay

      True, but there are even more pitiful sheeple out there looking for a cause to vote on. They can’t be dismissed just because they can’t understand how conservation works and wouldn’t see multiple success stories if they bit them in the arse.

  • Bruce Welnetz

    Here we go again. Talk about misleading! Amy was heard saying at the NRC meeting how disappointed MUCC was that wolves will not be trapped “this year”. It is very obvious that trapping was only kept out of this regulations this year so that you can mislead the public into believing trapping is not part of the plan. And those hunting fees for servicemen/women? Prior to the passage of PA 21, they only paid $1. Lets guess why MUCC fails to mention the new law saves servicemen $1. Do you suppose it is part of the campaign to mislead the public into believing they are not patriotic if they sign the petition? “Decline to Sign”, “American Flag”? Can hardly wait to see the campaign ads put out by MUCC and their affiliate out of state organizations.

  • Charles Knapp

    I notice that Bruce Welnetz and “Guest” don’t address the issue of intelligent wildlife management. Or economics, in a State which has a weak economy. Where does Welnetz get his notion that the NRA and MUCC have somehow turned bad? I’ll tell you what happened with the NRA-John Dingell, years ago, told us that if we didn’t wake up and organize to fight the anti-gun, anti-hunting people we would lose it all. We would much rather be training olympic shooters and teaching shooting and hunting safety instead of fighting political battles. But the antis leave us no choice.

    MUCC promotes the economically beneficial activities of hunting, fishing and trapping. If the mindless anti-hunting types get their way with wolves they will continue until they have referendumed away all species management by hunting, fishing, and trapping and the economic benefits thereof.
    I’ll bet that the opponents of PA 21 have never seen a wolf in the wild and know nothing about them. But never forget that the HSUS is liberal and anti-hunting as a matter of policy and, therefore, intellectually dishonest. In a word, Liberals lie and the HSUS is liberal.
    I recommend to you the Winter 2008 issue of Range magazine-rangemagazine.com. Interesting article about wolves called Anxiety Through the Ages.

    • NormMackey

      Intelligent wildlife management for wolves? There is the following description of it in the DNR document http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/Wolf_White_Paper_178870_7.pdf (which does not account for the fact that wolves might regulate their numbers at a lower level than the biological carrying capacity, as for at least the last few years is the case here):

      Passive Management
      Another approach to management of wolf population size and distribution would be to
      not actively manage the population and let it naturally regulate itself. Under such an
      approach, management would not prevent a wolf population from increasing to the
      maximum size the habitat could support. However, actions of individuals intolerant of
      wolves above a certain level would likely maintain the population below the maximum
      potential size. If a population did approach biological limits, natural checks on wolf
      numbers, such as starvation and disease, would likely increase. Large die-offs due to
      disease during periods of stress, such as winter, would be possible. No agency effort
      would be expended to control population size. However, this approach would probably
      require more agency resources for managing wolf–human conflicts.
      The number of wolves that could occur in the UP in the absence of human-induced
      population control can only be roughly estimated. Potvin et al. (2005) developed a
      spatial habitat model of suitable wolf habitat. Results from the model suggest
      approximately 27,700 km2 of habitat in the UP could be occupied by wolves. Maximum
      midwinter wolf densities (excluding Isle Royale) usually do not exceed 40 wolves per
      1,000 km2 (Fuller et al. 2003). Applying this wolf density to the estimate of suitable wolf
      habitat suggests the UP could support approximately 1,100 wolves.

    • Reality22

      Charles , Thank for the excellent post. In WI & MI alone wolves have killed and maimed over 2300 animals DOMESTIC since the return of wolves to the state. How in the world can a group like HSUS be pimping such an animal…. We need to get the word out that it is about getting Donate Now buttons pressed and not about Endangered Species.

  • Shay

    Perhaps it is time to amend our State constitution to permanently prevent out-of-state, deep -pocketed special interest groups from controlling the ballot over and over again. Preferably before the HSUS can buy enough signatures to get the scientific management bills crushed this Fall….

    • NormMackey

      That would be difficult, as such an amendment would require voter approval in the 2014 election, and likely be ruled in violation of the United States first amendment, by the first time contraband campaign literature was confiscated in the mandatory searches by the new state border patrol officers of vehicles entering the state at the approved gates and checkpoints to the rest of the US.

    • kristilloyd

      Hmmm, out of state, deep-pocketed special interest groups. You mean Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation (Missoula,MT), Safari Club INTERNATIONAL, George Pauley of MT and Idaho, Steve Smith from MT, Dan Stark of MN who spoke to the DNR’s meetings? Last I checked the USHS has a chapter in MI. No one was paid to sign that petition. If you think so, then prove it. Love to see your info on that.

  • Terry

    The above document is lengthy. The last paragraph should be 1st with the rest as back up. You don’t want to loose folks half way thru.

  • NormMackey

    A representative democracy is one that works according to a set of laws like the Michigan Constitution, which in this state’s case includes the veto referendum process as an integral part.

    It isn’t one where elected representatives of various political power get to force their way past the overview of the voters, even if it is claimed by some that the majority is being influenced by the rest of the country to vote “wrong”.

    It also isn’t one where things that were left out of voter approved referendums – like the transfer of power that was in PA 21, absolutely not a part of Proposal G(1996) – which would have prevented them from being approved by the voters in the first place, given that the first time the concept was tested in 2004, they rejected it over 2 to 1. The voters have already effectively spoken on the matter of the NRC designating game animals. In 2004 they voted 2 to 1 against. They certainly never voted for the rule.

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