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Michigan Natural Resources Commission Initiative (2014)

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The Michigan Natural Resource Commission Initiative was not on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Michigan as an indirect initiated state statute because the legislature approved the initiative on August 27, 2014.[1] The measure empowered the Michigan Natural Resource Commission to be the sole designator of what animals are listed as game species and can be hunted and how wildlife is managed in the state.[2]

Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management turned in an estimated 374,000 signatures on May 27, 2014.[3] On July 24, 2014, the Board of State Canvassers certified the measure. Since the initiative is indirect, the legislature had the opportunity to approve it within 40 days. If they did not, the would have gone on the ballot.[4] On August 13, 2014, the Michigan Senate approved the initiative.[5] The Michigan House of Representatives approved the measure on August 27, 2014.[6]

With the legislature's approval, the anti-wolf hunting Natural Resources Commission Referendum was rendered moot.[4]


The Michigan Natural Resource Commission Initiative was an indirect initiated state statute, meaning that the initiative did not go straight to the ballot following signature verification, but to the legislature. The legislature can either agree to adopt the initiative as law or place the initiative on the ballot. In Michigan, indirect initiative state statutes do not need the governor's signature. On August 13, 2014, the Michigan Senate approved the initiative. The Michigan House of Representatives approved the measure on August 27, 2014.[6]

Senate vote

August 13, 2014 Senate vote

Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 23 69.70%

House vote

August 27, 2014 House vote

House Vote
Approveda Yes 65 60.19%


Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management sponsored the initiative.[2]

Supporters called it the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act.



  • National Rifle Association[2]
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs
  • Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance
  • Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association


  • Cabela's[7]
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Gander Mountain


Drew YoungeDyke, grassroots manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, labeled opponents "radical out-of-state animal rights organizations." He argued the following:[8]

  • "We need to pass this law, otherwise HSUS will continue to target Michigan to take away our hunting and fishing rights, one by one. Contrary to how it raises its money, HSUS spends much of it attacking hunting rights, not sheltering pets. In fact, it has spent over $1 million in Michigan attacking hunting rights just through its two referendums. I wonder how many dogs and cats they could have sheltered with that money if they actually spent it how most of their donors thought it would be spent?"
  • "Some of the anti-hunters claim this is only about wolves, but it’s much larger than that. This is fundamentally about whether we manage wildlife species in Michigan with biology, scientific data and sound management principles, or if we manage wildlife based on how misleading HSUS can make a political commercial or how much money they can spend airing it... Hunting and fishing are vital parts of our heritage and our economy. Our fish and wildlife deserve to be managed with the best available science, not the slickest television commercials."

Other arguments supporting the measure include:

  • The Citizens for Profession Wildlife Management Chairman Merle Shepard argued in favor of empowering the Natural Resources Commission, saying, "We want the wildlife to be managed by sound science, not by hype… We want to make sure the professionals are the ones who are making the decisions.”[2]

Campaign contributions

Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management committee received $475,007 in contributions.[9]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management $475,007 $427,877
Total $475,007 $427,877

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
MI Bear Hunter Conservation Association $110,000
Safari Club International, Lansing Chapter $55,000
Safari Club International, SE MI Bowhunters Chapter $55,000
Safari Club Intentional, Flint Region $40,000
Safari Club International, Michigan Chapter $26,000
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation $25,000
Michigan United Conservation Clubs $20,441
UP Bear Houndsman Association $20,000
MI Trappers & PCA $13,218
UP Whitetails of Marquette City $10,000
Safari Club International, Alaska $10,000
Safari Club International, Mid-Michigan Chapter $10,000


Opponents of the initiative were generally supporters of the Wolf Hunting Referendum and the Natural Resources Commission Referendum.

Since the Natural Resources Commission Initiative was an indirect initiated state statute, the state legislature would have the opportunity to vote on the issue following signature validation. The initiative would render moot the Natural Resources Commission Referendum. Keep Wolves Protected, the Humane Society, Common Cause and Progress Michigan started a coalition called "Let Michigan Vote." Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle stated, "The Legislature is allowed to do this, but it’s not good government. It’s a subversion of the (democratic) process."[10]


  • Keep the Wolves Protected[2]


The Michigan Chapter of the Human Society of the United States Director Jill Fritz described the initiative’s backers as “special interests.”[2]

  • She argued, “It’s pretty clear that special interests will go to any lengths to keep their would hunt. And they’ll do an end run around voters to get their way.”
  • Fritz contended that the measure would remove citizen oversight from the Natural Resources Commission, thus taking “the ability away from citizens to repeal monumental decisions like this [wolf hunting].”

Eric Baerren, columnist for the Morning Sun, said the initiative is against the concepts of "property and democracy." He argued:[11]

  • "Why were voters asked in the first place? Because mourning doves [in reference to Proposal 3 of 2006], as an animal species, belong to you and me and everyone else and in Western Civilization. Ownership comes with the right to decide how property will be used. That means giving the public a chance to determine whether an animal species can be hunted."
  • "Michigan is currently grappling with a similar question of whether to hunt wolves. This time the people on one side want to permanently take away your rights of ownership for no other reason than they are afraid that a majority disagrees with them, and the odds are good that they will get their way... Supporters of hunting wolves are afraid that if it goes to a statewide vote that they will lose. So, they wish to permanently pre-empt the public’s right to say by getting the Legislature to enact the law."
  • "Lawmakers, based on a bunch of harrowing anecdotes that, upon examination, turned out to be fables, voted to make wolves a game species. People who didn’t like that circulated petitions to put it to a vote. This is what happened with the mourning dove hunt, by the way, except the Legislature let it go to a vote."
  • "If the Legislature votes in favor of them, you will permanently lose the right to decide what happens to property that belongs to you. You will not have voted to give up this right of ownership, mind you. It will be taken away from you on the grounds that a handful of people object to what opinions you might have about it."
  • "’I’m not sure that you could possibly imagine a greater sustained expression of contempt for the concepts of property and democracy if you tried. This is beyond the question of whether we should allow wolves to be hunted."



Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark, co-hosts on Michigan Radio's “It’s Just Politics," reported that the ballot initiative petition may have been displayed as a measure to fight invasive Asian Carp or to provide free hunting and fishing licenses to active duty military personnel. They called these sections of the petition "sweeteners" because they would help proponents collect signatures and avoid the initiative's primary intent, namely, to protect wolf hunting. Opponents of wolf hunting said that this is not only deceptive, but violates Michigan’s single object clause found in Section 24 of Article IV of the Michigan Constitution. Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society noted, "These are unrelated issues and I think clearly violate single subject rules on initiative construction, so I think there could be legal action on that."[12]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

The measure was filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management. It was approved to begin circulating on December 2, 2013 by the Board of State Canvassers.[1]

Supporters were required to gather and submit 258,087 valid signatures by May 28, 2014.[13] Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management turned in an estimated 374,000 signatures on May 27, 2014.[3] Signatures were certified on July 24, 2014. The measure was approved in the Michigan Legislature.[4][6]

Related measures

See also

Suggest a link

Additional reading