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      NRC okays wolf hunt

      There will be a wolf hunt this year in Upper Michigan. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved a wolf hunt under a new state law passed to circumvent a referendum on an earlier hunting law.

      The hunt will run from November 15, 2013 through December 31, 2013. It allows the killing of up to 43 gray wolves in seven U.P. counties.

      The NRC decision followed a process of extended public discussion along with consulting wildlife biologists. The commission says it was a thorough review of the pertinent science. "Public Act 21 affirms the critical importance of managing natural resources in Michigan on the firm foundation of science,â?? said Natural Resources Commission Chair J.R. Richardson. â??Today's decision supports ongoing scientific management of wolves, just as voters intended when, by an overwhelming margin, they approved Proposal G in 1996. Managing wildlife through science is far better than managing wildlife through ballot questions, which some organizations support for Michigan.

      The group, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, pushed for a citizens referendum on a wolf hunt. They were successful in getting petitions signatures to force a ballot issue. That will appear on the November 2014 ballot.

      Thursday night, the group said the decision is disappointing. â??The voters of Michiganâ??not politicians and bureaucratsâ??should have their voices heard on whether our stateâ??s fragile wolf population is needlessly hunted for trophies,â?? said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. â??The NRC should have delayed a decision until the November 2014 election and let the democratic process play out as intended. Instead they have thumbed their noses at Michigan voters and told them their opinions donâ??t matter.â??

      The wolf has been on the Federal Endangered Species list from 1974 to 2012. Michigan authorities estimate there are 658 wolves in the state.