American Indian tribes of Michigan are part of a coalition that’s looking to reverse a new law that allows for a wolf-hunting season in the Upper Peninsula. The coalition, unveiled Tuesday, is trying to put a referendum on the 2014 ballot.
Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Sainte Marie (soo saynt MAH’-ree) Tribe of Chippewa Indians, says a wolf hunt would be an affront to tribal culture.
“In our tradition, in our culture, we believe that the wolf is our brother,” he says. “And, I don’t mean this to sound very mystical, but in our long-standing tradition, we believe that what happens to the wolf, eventually happens to us.”
Payment says a wolf hunt could also violate a 2007 agreement between Indian tribes and the state of Michigan.
The coalition also includes the Humane Society and other animal rights groups.
The campaign says the gray wolf was only recently taken off the endangered species list in Michigan. They also say it’s wrong to hunt wolves since they are not used for food.
But Kent Wood, who supports the law, says wildlife managers often use hunting seasons as a tool.
“There is another type of hunting that we use sportsmen and hunters for, and that is to help manage populations,” Wood says. He’s with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “We understand that not every wildlife creature out there is used for food, but hunters can also play a very important role in managing these populations.”
State wildlife officials say a limited wolf hunt could reduce instances of wolves preying on pets and livestock. The Department of Natural Resources is currently studying whether a wolf hunt should be allowed in the western U.P.