Something to howl about


If I lived in the U.P., I would find Trolls (folks living beneath the bridge) sniffing around and sticking their nose in my business and safety something to howl about.

I like wildlife as much as the next person and want our lawmakers to protect our natural resources for generations to come. Yet, a bit of common sense should also be a prerequisite to lawmaking and citizen initiatives as well.

Recently, the State’s Natural Resource Commission used authority provided through Senate Bill 288, introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and signed by Governor Snyder, to develop science based regulations including a limited wolf hunt in Michigan to help manage menacing wolves.

Senator Casperson is strongly and appropriately representing his U.P. constituents, especially citizens in the Western U.P. where wolves are concentrated and are killing pets, livestock, and wildlife and creating fear among residents.

Yet, the Keep MI Wolves Protected group announced it would seek a new referendum in order to reverse recently enacted legislation that allows the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to manage wolves according to sound science as they do with other game species.

Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected believes this latest steps by the legislature and the NRC is an end around the citizens rights and stated, “Michiganders deserve to have their voices heard on the wolf issue, and we hope they’ll have an opportunity to vote on two ballot measures next year to do just that.”

So, we would have a statewide vote to protect wolves that are not a threat to us Trolls? Is this democracy barking up the wrong tree?

Clearly, in our democratic society the folks at Keep Michigan Wolves Protected have a right to pursue this issue. Yet, should wildlife management really be directed from the ballot box?

Casperson was doing some howling himself stating, “Just as it is their right to pursue a referendum on Michigan law, it is also my right and obligation as senator for the area where wolves are actually located to protect the changing local way of life.”

He continues, “I will be relentless in maintaining management policies to ensure that the people of the Upper Peninsula are heard as they overwhelmingly have pleaded for management efforts, including hunting, to help address problems caused by a growing wolf population in their backyards.

“After all, U.P. residents are the only people whose daily lives are impacted by wolves in their communities.”

This debate reminds me of another Senator from the U.P. who once famously said about “treehuggers”: “They come to the U.P. with $5 in their pocket and one pair of underwear and don’t change either the entire time they are here.”

Like I said, I love nature and wildlife as much as the next guy – yet, the Senator is right – we should decide this issue based on sound science, safety and local control.

Tom Watkins


Former state mental health director

& former state superintendent of schools