A Republican-led Senate Committee in the Michigan legislature approved on Thursday a wolf hunting bill that cannot be overturned through a future referendum. According to the Associated Press, Senate Bill 288 contains a $1 million appropriation that prevents it from being blocked by referendums, such as those seen elsewhere in the country. The bill will empower the state’s Natural Resources Commission to designate game animals, providing the department with far more authority than previously.
Animal rights groups have long decried the hunting of wolves, which became the target of management programs after their delisting from the Endangered Species List last year. Gray wolves were previously the subject of federal protection programs that sought to return the species to their natural ranges after a dramatic decrease in their population. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the species sufficiently recovered and removed it from federal protection in early 2012. Over 161,000 signatures mark a petition by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) to call for a referendum on a 2012 law that allowed a wolf season. The introduction of Senate Bill 288 is seen by opponents of wolf hunting as a move to circumvent the referendum before it gets to voters.
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