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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:On the ballot
2014 measures
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August 5
Proposal 1 Approveda
November 4
Proposal 1
Proposal 2
Local measures

The Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum, Proposal 1 is on the November 4, 2014, ballot in Michigan as a veto referendum. The measure, upon voter approval, would uphold Public Act 520, which establishes wolf hunting seasons in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.[1]

Public Act 520, which the veto referendum seeks to overturn, was superseded by the 2013 Public Act 21. This supersession rendered the referendum meaningless and merely symbolic, since the referendum is attempting to overturn PA 520 and not PA 21.[2] Supporters of the referendum have placed another referendum on the ballot to overturn PA 21.[3]

In Michigan, a "Yes" vote on a veto referendum upholds the law and a "No" vote rejects the law. Therefore, the referendum's supporters are campaigning for a "No" vote.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text is as follows:[4]



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 [5]


PA 520

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed the 2012 Public Act 520 on December 31, 2012.[6] 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hunt is no longer designated by the legislature and thus the referendum is an attempt to overturn a law that had been superseded.

PA 21

State Senator Tom Casperson (R-38) sponsored Senate Bill 288,[7] which made the measure moot. SB 288 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 and the legislation became known as Public Act 21. Snyder justified his signature by noting, “This action helps ensure sound scientific and biological principles guide decisions about management of game in Michigan.”[8] Referendum supporters initiated the Natural Resources Commission Referendum to overturn PA 21.[3]


Note: Supporters are campaigning for a "no" vote.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Logo.jpeg

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected sponsored the measure's signature collection and is leading the referendum campaign.[9][10]



  • Detroit Audubon Society[11]
  • Wolfwatcher Coalition[12]
  • 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:[13]

  • "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 exists 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.”

Other arguments in favor of the referendum include:

  • 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.”[14]

Campaign contributions

As of April 25, 2014, Keep Michigan's Wolves Protected committee has received $1,473,616 in contributions.[15] Contributions will be utilized for both this referendum and the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Referendum. The following information is accurate as of June 25, 2014.

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected $1,473,616 $1,046,062
Total $1,473,616 $1,046,062

Top 3 contributors:

Donor Amount
Humane Society of the United States $1,015,783
Humane Society Legislative Fund $255,127
Robert Rhue $60,000


Note: Opponents are campaigning for a "yes" vote.




  • 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]


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., [16]

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


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.[17]

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% 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]

Similar measures

See also

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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. Michigan Secretary of State, "Proposal 14-1," accessed September 5, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Bill 1350 (2012)," accessed January 16, 2014
  7. Michigan Legislature, “Senate Bill 0288 (2013)”, accessed January 13, 2014
  8. Detroit Free Press, “Gov. Rick Snyder signs off on gray wolf hunt in the U.P.”, May 8, 2013
  9. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected
  10. Michigan Radio, "Referendum campaign will try to block wolf hunts," January 14, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, "Endorsements," accessed January 13, 2014
  12. Wolfwatcher Coalition, "Michigan Wolves," accessed February 27, 2014
  13. Huffington Post, "Michigan Wolves Don't Need to Die," February 17, 2014
  14. Battle Creek Enquirer, "First Michigan wolf hunt falls short of quota," January 4, 2014
  15. Michigan Secretary of State, "Michigan Committee Statement of Organization," accessed April 2, 2014
  16. Marketing Research Group Michigan, "Michigan Poll: Michigan residents favor a limited hunting season on wolves," April 3, 2014
  17. MLive, “Michigan Senator apologizes for fictional wolf story in resolution: 'I am accountable, and I am sorry’”, November 7, 2013