Michigan appeals court finds 2014 wolf hunt unconstitutional
Posted November 23
LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan appeals court has found that the state's 2014 wolf hunt was unconstitutional and the law allowing it should be struck down.
A three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals made the unanimous ruling in an opinion released Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/2ghiLPO). The judges found that a provision of the law that allows for free military hunting, fishing and trapping licenses isn't connected to the object of the law, which is providing for scientific management of wildlife habitats.
That violates the "title-object clause" in the Michigan Constitution that says the object of a law must be expressed in its title, the judges ruled. The entire law must be struck down because it's not clear if the measure would have been approved if that provision wasn't included, the judges said.
The ruling is in favor of the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and overturns an earlier ruling from the Michigan Court of Claims.
The Michigan Legislature in 2014 adopted a voter initiative giving the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and the Legislature joint responsibility to name new game animals. The initiative came after earlier failed efforts to add wolves to the definition of "game" in Michigan. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected challenged the law.
In the appeals court ruling, judges said the group viewed the law as "a Trojan Horse, within which the ability to hunt wolves was cleverly hidden." The judges said though that their decision wasn't based on policy but "on an analysis of the dictates of Michigan's constitution."
In December 2014, a federal judge threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that banned further wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.