Welfare of Michigan Wolves, Maine Bears in the Balance on Election Day

October 23, 2014

Election Day on Tuesday, November 4, will be an important day for American wildlife in two states—wolves in Michigan and bears in Maine. HSVMA has been involved in legislative advocacy efforts in both states on behalf of these animals and encourages our members in Michigan and Maine to support our efforts to protect wolves and bears and share information with colleagues, clients, friends and family on these critical animal welfare ballot initiatives.

For the Wolves of MICHIGAN: Vote "NO" on Proposals 1 and 2

Update: November 5, 2014

HSVMA joins Michigan veterinarians and other animal advocates in celebrating the defeat of Proposals 1 and 2 on Election Day, demonstrating that Michigan residents do not support a wolf hunt nor the attempt to transfer authority to the Natural Resources Commission to declare hunting seasons on protected species. Read more»


Wolves had been a protected species in Michigan for nearly fifty years after they were hunted to the brink of extinction. In 2012, despite their fragile population—according to a recent census, fewer than 650 wolves remain in Michigan--the Michigan legislature voted to allow their trophy hunting after wolves were removed from the endangered species list. Extreme forms of sport hunting wolves, including inhumane baiting and trapping, are now legal.

By the end of March 2013, more than 255,000 Michigan residents had registered their disapproval by signing a petition to overturn a sport hunt on wolves through the ballot referendum process. Despite this overwhelming show of citizen opposition, the Michigan legislature intervened; passing legislation that trumped the referendum process and allowed the trophy hunting of wolves to resume.

Two measures on the November 4 ballot will establish the sport hunting of wolves (Proposal 1), as well as deny Michigan voters a future say in this matter (Proposal 2). The intent of these proposals is to give political appointees and contributors—individuals who are neither scientists nor experts and who are unaccountable to voters--unchallenged decision-making power about these wildlife issues.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is a coalition of conservation groups, animal welfare organizations, Native American tribes, wildlife scientists, faith groups, veterinarians, hunters, farmers, and concerned Michigan citizens. Among its member organizations are the Detroit Audubon Society, the Detroit Zoological Society, the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, National WolfWatcher Coalition, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, HSVMA, and many local humane societies and rescue groups.

More than 130 veterinarians joined with HSVMA in opposition to the trophy hunting of Michigan wolves. View the full list»

If you are a Michigan resident, please Vote NO on Proposals 1 and 2. Say "NO" to the resumption of trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan and "NO" to the elimination of Michigan voters’ rights to a say in wildlife issues within your own state. And please take the time to encourage all of your Michigan colleagues, clients, friends and family members to join you in voting NO on Proposals 1 and 2. Visit NoOn1And2.com for more information»

For the Bears of MAINE: Vote "YES" on Question 1

Update: November 5, 2014

HSVMA joins Maine veterinarians and other animal advocates in expressing disappointment over the defeat of Question 1 on Election Day, which would have ended bear baiting, hounding and trapping. However, HSVMA appreciates the strong support of the veterinary community and more than a quarter million Mainers who did vote for the measure. Read more»

Megan Sewell/The HSUS

Maine remains the only state in the nation to allow all three cruel and unfair practices of bear trapping, hounding and baiting. These inhumane and unsporting techniques allow bears to be shot while they are trapped, treed and fed, respectively. They also endanger the dogs forced to chase them.

These techniques are scientifically indefensible. Wildlife biologists observe that baiting alters bear behavior by habituating bears to human food--increasing the chances of bear-human conflicts. Baiting also increases the bear population by supporting higher bear reproduction and cub survival rates. In just the last ten years alone, Maine’s bear population has grown by 30% and nuisance complaints have increased by 25%. Conversely, since prohibiting baiting and hounding 20 years ago, bear populations in Washington, Colorado and Oregon have actually stabilized.

These extreme methods have actually been quite unpopular with Maine hunters. The number of Mainers pursuing bears has been in a steady decline, with no more than 3% recently purchasing bear licenses. Instead, the hunt has primarily benefited a small number of guides and outfitters who guarantee bear kills to out-of-state trophy hunters in exchange for steep fees.

In 2013 opponents of these unsporting practices, yet again, pursued legislative efforts to end them. Unfortunately, the other side has remained unwilling to compromise. However, in just 121 days nearly 80,000 Mainers signed a citizen initiative petition, placing Question 1 on next month’s ballot to end these unsavory practices.

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing long-overdue protections for Maine’s bears and the dogs forced to chase them. They represent a broad coalition of hunters, environmental and animal organizations, animal shelters and rescue groups, veterinarians, businesses, community and faith leaders, and independent biologists. Their coalition partners include Wildlife Alliance of Maine, Great Bear Foundation, Maine Friends of Animals, Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Wildlife Ethics, Endangered Species Coalition, Maine Animal Coalition, ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States and HSVMA.

Approximately 60 Maine veterinarians joined with HSVMA in supporting the elimination of bear trapping, baiting and hounding in the state. View the list of endorsers (scroll down to the "Veterinarians" section)»

If you are a Maine resident, please vote YES on Question 1. Say "YES" to ban baiting, hounding and trapping of bears for sport or trophy hunting in Maine. And please take the time to encourage all of your Maine colleagues, clients, friends and family members to also vote YES on Question 1. Visit YesOnQuestion1.com for more information»