LANSING (DETROIT FREE PRESS)- Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters today a bill he signed that paves the way for a Michigan gray wolf hunt is not about wolves - a claim critics say ignores the intent of the legislation.
"I didn't sign a wolf bill recently," Snyder told reporters in his Capitol office.
"I was signing a bill that dealt with sound scientific management principles for game and for fish."
On Wednesday, Snyder signed Senate Bill 288, which gives the Michigan Natural Resources Commission the responsibility to establish hunting seasons for wild game and the authority to regulate the taking of fish. The legislation exempts the hunting of mourning doves, pets and livestock.
That bill, which became Public Act 21 of 2013, supersedes legislation passed last year that designated the gray wolf as a game species. Opponents of that law had filed more than 250,000 signatures in the hopes of having the wolf hunt repealed by a vote in the November 2014 election.
The Natural Resources Commission could authorize a wolf hunt at a meeting today in Roscommon. If it does so, the wolf hunt would remain the law under the bill Snyder signed Wednesday, even if the law passed last year is repealed by voters.
Jill Fritz, Michigan state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said Snyder's comments are technically accurate.
However, "everybody knows that SB 288 was introduced ... specifically to circumvent a ballot referendum that is pending," Fritz said.
"I wish that he would publicly acknowledge why this legislation was passed, and that he would allow voters to have their say."
Fritz said her group plans to go ahead with the repeal of the 2012 legislation, even though it won't stop the wolf hunt.
"It's just important to show how strongly the voters of Michigan feel about this issue," she said.
Her group is also exploring other options, she said.
Snyder made the comments after signing legislation to keep the blood alcohol level for drunken driving in Michigan at 0.08%. Under a sunset clause, the level was scheduled to rise to 0.1% in October.
"This is a major issue for law enforcement," Snyder said. "We want safe roads."