Michigan has joined the appeal of a federal judge’s decision to restore endangered species protections to the gray wolf.
Animal rights and wildlife groups challenged the de-listing in an effort to stop wolf hunting in Michigan and other Midwestern states. Michigan voters rejected wolf hunting last year – although that referendum was circumvented by the Legislature. However, wildlife groups succeeded in court where they failed politically when a federal judge last month restored the protections.
Ed Golder of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the protections extend beyond hunting.
“People in Michigan are currently in an unacceptable position when it comes to wolves,” he said. “If you’re a farmer in the Upper Peninsula and you see a wolf attacking your cow or your sheep, there’s not a thing you can do about it in that moment.”
Widlife groups have proposed a compromise – “threatened species” protections that would allow for lethal measures to deal with problem wolves while still prohibiting a hunting season. The state is not ready to accept that offer. Golder says the state’s wolf population is recovering well and doesn’t require federal oversight anymore.
“I think it’s unfortunate that our state government is thumbing its nose at the overwhelming vote of the people who rejected wolf hunting just a few months ago,” says Jill Fritz of the Humane Society and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.