Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum, Proposal 1 (2014)

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Proposal 1
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Type:Veto referendum
State code:Public Act 520
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Hunting and fishing on the ballot
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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August 5
Proposal 1 Approveda
November 4
Proposal 1 Defeatedd
Proposal 2 Defeatedd
Local measures

The Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum, Proposal 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Michigan as a veto referendum, where it was defeated. The measure would have upheld Public Act 520, which allowed for establishing wolf hunting seasons and designated the wolf as a game animal.[1]

While the "no" campaign sought to overturn Public Act 520, the act was superseded by Public Act 21 in May 2013. This supersession rendered the referendum practically moot and merely symbolic, since the referendum was attempting to overturn PA 520 and not PA 21.[2] Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, the group supporting Proposal 1, placed another referendum, known as Proposal 2, on the ballot to overturn PA 21.[3] However, a pro-wolf hunting indirect initiative was approved by the legislature, rendering Proposal 2 moot as well.[4] Neither Michigan Proposal 1 nor Proposal 2 had any long-term practical effect due to these events.

A "Yes" vote on a veto referendum was to uphold the law, and a "No" vote was to reject the law. Therefore, the referendum's supporters were campaigning for a "No" vote.

Election results

Michigan Proposal 1
Defeatedd No1,606,32854.93%
Yes 1,318,080 45.07%

Election results via: Michigan Department of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text was as follows:[5]



Public Act 520 of 2012 would:

  • Designate wolf as game for hunting purposes and authorize the first wolf hunting season.
  • Allow the Natural Resources Commission to schedule annual wolf hunting seasons.
  • Provide criminal penalties for the unlawful possession or taking of wolves, but shield a person who lawfully captures or destroys a wolf from prosecution.
  • Require a person who wishes to hunt wolves to obtain a wolf hunting license.
  • Create a Wolf Management Advisory Council for the purpose of making nonbinding recommendations to the legislature regarding the proper management of wolves.

Should this law be approved?
Yes 
No [6]


PA 520

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed the 2012 Public Act 520 on December 31, 2012.[7] The statute established wolf hunting seasons in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Normally, a law would be suspended from measure certification until the statewide election. However, this was not the case when veto referendum supporters turned in valid signatures. Due to PA 21, the state's hunt was no longer designated by the legislature and thus the referendum was an attempt to overturn a law that had been superseded. Proposal 1, therefore, was rendered moot in practice.

PA 21

State Senator Tom Casperson (R-38) sponsored PA 21, which made Proposal 1 moot.[8] PA 21 empowered the Natural Resource Commission to declare game animals and establish hunting seasons without legislative action. Prior, game animals needed to be declared in law, which subjected them to potential referendums. In 2006, for example, Michiganders overturned Public Act 160. PA 160 would have allowed for the hunting of mourning doves. Gov. Snyder signed the law on May 8, 2013. Snyder justified his signature by noting, “This action helps ensure sound scientific and biological principles guide decisions about management of game in Michigan.”[9] Referendum supporters initiated the Natural Resources Commission Referendum, also known as Proposal 2 to overturn PA 21.[3] Proposal 2 was certified for the ballot on May 6, 2014.[10]

Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management

Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management (CPWM), a group supporting wolf hunting, decided to fight Proposal 2 with their own indirect initiated state statute, the Natural Resources Commission Initiative. The indirect initiative was one in which the initiative did not go straight to the ballot following signature verification, but to the legislature. The legislature could either agree to adopt the initiative as law or place the initiative on the ballot. On May 27, 2014, the campaign group filed signatures with the Michigan Secretary of State.[11] The measure was certified, and the legislature reconvened to vote on the matter. On August 13, the Michigan Senate approved the initiative. The Michigan House of Representatives approved the measure on August 27, 2014. The initiative rendered Proposal 2 moot.[4]

Neither Michigan Proposal 1 nor Proposal 2 had any practical long-term effect due to these events.

Following pro-hunt initiative's approval

Approximately $816,768 was spent to get the two anti-wolf hunting veto referendums on the general election ballot in Michigan.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP), the campaign group sponsoring the measures, had planned to initiate litigation against the pro-hunt Natural Resources Commission Initiative, arguing that the initiative's content was too broad. The organization still encouraged people to turn out and vote "no" on November 4, just in case the pro-hunt initiative was overturned by a court in the future. As Jill Fritz, director of KMWP, said, "If those referendums are overturned in November, and the initiative is overturned in court, wolves could not be hunted for trophies."[12] KMWP could not initiate a third veto referendum, however, as the pro-hunt initiative contained appropriations for the DNR to battle invasive Asian Carp, a matter unrelated to wolf hunting. In 2001, the Michigan Supreme Court determined the state constitution protected all laws making appropriations from veto referendums.[13]

Opponents of the wolf hunt, realizing they could still send a message of disapproval to lawmakers, continued their campaign.[14] Also, the two measures, which overturned the two laws, blocked the wolf hunt until the pro-hunt initiative went into effect in late-March or April 2015.[15] Since the veto referendums were on the table and the pro-hunt law wasn't yet in effect, the state did not schedule a wolf hunt for 2014.[16]

Support for "yes" vote

Michigan Yes 1 and 2 2014.jpg
Note: Opponents are those against the veto referendum and who were campaigning for a "yes" vote.

Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management led the "yes" campaign for Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 and was the group responsible for the Natural Resources Commission Initiative, which allowed the legislature to render Proposals 1 and 2 moot.[17]




  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC)[2]


  • Erin McDonough, executive director of MUCC, said, "The fact that HSUS was able to collect the required number of signatures tells us nothing about the issue other than if you are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and target areas of the state without a wolf population and refuse to educate the public about the issue, you can collect a lot of signatures. MUCC believes that HSUS has vastly underestimated the intelligence level of Michigan's residents and has grossly overestimated this state's tolerance for out-of-state extremists attempting to buy election results."[2]

Campaign contributions

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of October 27, 2014
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $827,926
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $3,169,948

As of October 27, 2014, Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management committee had received $827,926 in contributions.[18] Virtually all of the following contributions were expended on Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management's own initiative—the Natural Resources Commission Initiative—and not on directly supporting Proposal 1 or Proposal 2.

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management $827,926 $755,816
Total $827,926 $755,816

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
Michigan United Conservation Clubs $27,446
Safari Club International, Michigan Chapter $26,000
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation $25,000
MI Hunting Dog Federation $20,000
UP Bear Houndsman Association $20,000

Opposition to "yes" vote

Note: Opponents are those who initiated the veto referendum and were campaigning for a "no" vote.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Logo.jpeg

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected sponsored the measure's signature collection and led the referendum campaign.[19][20]



  • Detroit Audubon Society[21]
  • Wolfwatcher Coalition[22]
  • Animals and Society Institute
  • Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network
  • Companion Cats
  • Free Roaming and Feral Cat Coalition of SW MI
  • Songbird Protection Coalition
  • Audubon Society of Kalamazoo
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust
  • Humane Society of the United States
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA)
  • Center for Biological Diversity

  • Wolf Haven International
  • No Kill Michigan
  • In Defense of Animals (IDA)
  • Keep Michigan Wolves Free
  • Gratiot Lake Conservancy
  • Saving Animals In Our World, Inc.
  • American Sanctuary Association
  • Animal Aid Foundation
  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Chakchiuma Sektchi Nation



ASPCA President Matthew Bershadker said the following against wolf hunting in Michigan:[23]

  • "Yes, there are now more than 650 wolves in Michigan. But charges that wolves have ventured onto residential porches or daycare centers -- or are killing livestock frequently -- are not passing the truth test. In some cases, entire stories about wolf incidents are being retracted. What is true: Michigan farmers, ranchers and other landowners are already permitted to kill wolves to protect livestock or dogs, even though cases of wolves killing livestock are relatively rare. Ranchers are also compensated for livestock losses from wolves. There has also never been a single record of a wolf attack on a human in Michigan. In fact, wolves are fearful of people, and avoid them. (Rightfully so.)"
  • Bershadker claimed that no empirical evidence existed related to wolf attacks or intrusions in Michigan. Therefore, "This leaves only one motive: killing wolves merely for sport, thrill, out of hatred, and for trophies -- which is what brought wolves to the brink of extinction in the first place."
  • “In the end, these wolves are not nearly the threat to humans as some of us humans are to our own humanity. Too often -- as in this case -- the truth is deliberately obscured by individuals and institutions guided solely by self-interest and profit. When that happens, animals are not the only ones who pay the price. We all do.”

Colleen Pace, owner of Riverbank Farm in Davison, President of the American Association of Riding Schools and member of the Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition, responded to yes vote supporters' claim that wolf hunting should be decided by the Natural Resources Commission. She argued:

Michigan voters are routinely asked to make decisions about complex social and economic issues, elect judges and school board officials, and decide which legislators will represent us in Lansing. We voters are also qualified to weigh in on such important decisions as whether a small and fragile population of a species recently removed from federal endangered status should be killed for trophies, or out of fear and hysteria. The wildlife of Michigan is held in the public trust, and all voters have the right to decide their fate…

The NRC is not a panel of “experts” on this issue. In fact, there is not one biologist, ecologist, or resource scientist among them. They are business owners and hunting enthusiasts that have ignored testimony from two of the world’s most renowned wolf experts — John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson — opposing a wolf hunt, and instead solicited input from the big-game lobby group Safari Club International and Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association to authorize a trophy hunt on wolves…

One can approve hunting game for meat without supporting pure blood-sport. Wolves play a significant role in the U.P. ecosystem by reducing deer, beavers, and smaller species. Scientists understand that, when we remove the predators by hunting and trapping them indiscriminately, we upset the entire food chain. [6]

—Colleen Pace[24]

Other arguments in favor of the referendum included:

  • Reviewing statistics from the state’s first wolf hunt, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected’s Jill Fritz said, “But when 1,200 hunters get out in the woods looking for wolves, they discover what scientists and many people in the U.P. have been saying all along: that wolves are shy, elusive animals who want to avoid human contact.”[25]

Campaign contributions

As of October 27, 2014, Keep Michigan's Wolves Protected committee had received $3,169,948 in contributions.[26] Contributions were utilized for both Proposal 1 and Proposal 2.

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected $3,169,948 $1,542,326
Total $3,169,948 $1,542,326

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Humane Society of the United States $1,373,874
Humane Society Legislative Fund $1,117,212
Robert Rhue $60,000


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures

Marketing Resource Group, Inc. issued a poll in late March 2014. They read the following statement and question to respondents:

Hunting wolves was declared against the law when they became an endangered species in Michigan several years ago. Now, however, the number of wolves has gotten large enough that claims are being made that the wolves are attacking other animals and pose a threat to people in small rural areas and should be reduced in number. With this background, do you support or oppose legislation that would allow a limited hunting season on wolves?


—Marketing Resource Group, Inc. [27]

Note: "Support" is the category for those who oppose the wolf hunt and "Oppose" is the category for those who support the wolf hunt.

Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Marketing Resource Group, Inc.
3/24/2013 - 3/28/2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.


Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan.

Fictional wolf story

State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38) utilized a fictional account of a supposedly real-life incident involving wolves in a daycare’s yard to argue that gray wolves should not be considered an endangered species. His comments received national attention. Casperson admitted his mistake in November 2013, saying, “Words matter. Accuracy matters. Especially here, with a topic that is so emotional and is so important to so many, especially those whose way of life is being changed in my district. A decision here of whether or not we use sound science to manage wolves, as with all decisions this body makes, should not be based on emotions, agendas or innuendo, but rather on facts.” Supporters of the referendum argued that this incident demonstrates that the law’s advocates are the one’s basing their stance on emotions, not science, rather than them.[28]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

Supporters submitted a reported 253,705 signatures on March 27, 2013. This was 64 percent more than the 161,304 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot. On May 22, 2013, the Board of State Canvassers determined that sufficient signatures had been filed and certified the measures for the November 2014 ballot.[1] Normally, a law would be suspended from measure certification until the statewide election. However, due to PA 21, the state's wolf hunt is no longer designated by the legislature and thus the referendum is an attempt to overturn a law that had been superseded.[2]

Related measures

See also

Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 Michigan Secretary of State, "2014 Statewide Ballot Proposals Status," accessed January 13, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 MLive, "Debate over possible Michigan wolf hunt enters new phase with signature submission," March 27, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 MLive, "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected launching second petition drive after new law blocked original effort," July 2, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 MLive, "Wolf hunt law approved by Michigan House after heated debate, Capitol protest," August 28, 2014
  5. Michigan Secretary of State, "Proposal 14-1," accessed September 5, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Bill 1350 (2012)," accessed January 16, 2014
  8. Michigan Legislature, “Senate Bill 0288 (2013)”," accessed January 13, 2014
  9. Detroit Free Press, “Gov. Rick Snyder signs off on gray wolf hunt in the U.P.”, May 8, 2013
  10. MLive, "Another anti-wolf hunt proposal approved for Michigan ballot," May 6, 2014
  11. CBS Detroit, "Pro-Wolf Hunting Group Submits 374K Petition Signatures; Detroit Zoo Objects," May 27, 2014
  12. MLive, "Michigan wolf hunt ballot proposals: Will your vote matter?," October 7, 2014
  13. MLive, "Michigan Election 2014: How Asian Carp money makes new wolf hunt law immune to referendum," October 8, 2014
  14. Toledo Blade, "Mich. voters can to make statement on wolf hunts," October 9, 2014
  15. The Detroit News, "Ballot language approved for wolf hunting referendums," September 4, 2014 (dead link)
  16. Detroit Free Press, "Want to hunt Michigan wolves? You'll have to wait until at least 2015," September 11, 2014
  17. Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, "Homepage," accessed October 27, 2014
  18. Michigan Secretary of State, "Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management Committee Statement of Organization," accessed October 27, 2014
  19. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected
  20. Michigan Radio, "Referendum campaign will try to block wolf hunts," January 14, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, "Endorsements," accessed January 13, 2014
  22. Wolfwatcher Coalition, "Michigan Wolves," accessed February 27, 2014
  23. Huffington Post, "Michigan Wolves Don't Need to Die," February 17, 2014
  24. MLive, "Guest column: You, voter, are qualified to decide on wolf hunts," September 30, 2014
  25. Battle Creek Enquirer, "First Michigan wolf hunt falls short of quota," January 4, 2014
  26. Michigan Secretary of State, "Michigan Committee Statement of Organization," accessed April 2, 2014
  27. Marketing Research Group Michigan, "Michigan Poll: Michigan residents favor a limited hunting season on wolves," April 3, 2014
  28. MLive, “Michigan Senator apologizes for fictional wolf story in resolution: 'I am accountable, and I am sorry’”, November 7, 2013