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Published: Sunday, 12/1/2013


Michigan’s wolf hunt

Not long ago, wolves were nearly extinct in Michigan. Then a carefully managed conservation program brought them back to the state’s Upper Peninsula. Today, there are an estimated 650 wolves in the U.P., most of them in its sparsely populated western half — territory that is closer to St. Louis than Toledo.

Last year, despite protests, the state classified wolves as game animals. This year, amid lurid tales of wolves killing livestock and appearing outside child-care centers, state officials allowed them to be hunted.

People who understand conservation were appalled. Michigan Technological University professor John Vucetich, a conservation biologist, said, “There is no scientific evidence wolves need to be hunted.” He added: “It’s not common sense to spend decades bringing the wolf back from the brink of extinction,” only to begin killing the animal.

It also turned out that much of the “evidence” about wolves menacing people consisted of lies. Most of the lost livestock belonged to one irresponsible farmer who left dead cattle lying around his farm and refused to install a fence.

In fact, it was already legal to shoot any wolf that menaced livestock. There has never been a case of a wolf attacking a human in Michigan history.

Nevertheless, the state happily sold 1,200 wolf-hunting licenses. It changed Michigan law so that voters could not hold a referendum on whether the wolf hunt should be outlawed.

Whether or not you support the wolf hunt, taking that decision out of voters’ hands is undemocratic. And using lies to justify any decision is deeply dishonest.

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