Michigan Senate approves bill requiring only U.P. representation on state wolf panel

Senate Bill 486 is sponsored by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township).
All U.P. wolf advisory counsel receives pushback
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 3:02 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: A bill is advancing in the Michigan Legislature in regard to the state’s wolf advisory panel and possible future wolf hunts.

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation, with only Republicans voting in favor of the bill, that would require that each member of the state’s Wolf Management Advisory Council be a resident of the Upper Peninsula unless wolves become present in the Lower Peninsula.

“Michigan’s entire known wolf population is in the U.P., yet nearly all the members of the state’s Wolf Management Advisory Council are from downstate,” said Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township), who sponsored Senate Bill 486. “Unless or until the wolf population moves south of the bridge, for the council to be fair and to be a better representation of reality, its members need to be from the U.P. Plain and simple. U.P. residents representing all five of the specific stakeholders this panel calls for are readily available and have the intelligence and desire to serve.”

Democatic opposition say the changes proposed sway the outcomes of a possible wolf hunt.

“Those in support of this bill have one goal in mind, which is to stack the Wolf Management Advisory Council with those in favor of a wolf hunt ahead of the 2022 hunting season,” said Sen. Dayna Polhanki (D-Livonia).

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the council is an advisory body that makes recommendations on wolf management in the state — including a possible hunting and trapping season. It was recently reestablished after the federal government removed gray wolves from the threatened and endangered species list.

The state announced appointments to the council, composed of representatives from organizations in conservation, hunting, agriculture, animal advocacy and tribal government. However, only one appointee was from the U.P. This is in stark contrast to other advisory panels that are typically made up of residents directly impacted by the land or wildlife issue they are tasked to provide advice.

If signed into law, McBroom’s bill would require all council members to reside in the U.P. unless the DNR determined, through winter track surveys and genetic testing, that wolves became present in the Lower Peninsula. If that were to occur, then only a majority of council members would have to be residents of the U.P.

SB 486 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. If it receives approval from the Michigan House, it would advance to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for her consideration. Sen. McBroom told TV6 he was disappointed in the strictly partisan vote, saying that might indicate a certain decision by the Whitmer administration in the future.

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