Tomorrow is National Endangered Species Day, a day where people around the country learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and what they can do to help protect them.
One animal species that’s been making headlines over the last few months is the gray wolf. In the 1970s, the gray wolf was driven to the brink of extinction until Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act, officially protecting the wolf.
After decades of work to save gray wolves from extinction, they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2011, which paved the way for states like Michigan to hold wolf hunts again. Proponents of wolf hunting have cited overpopulation and cases showing the wolves were becoming a risk to communities (which has proven to be false).
A conservation group recently launched a ballot initiative designed to repeal a 2012 state law that had established an open hunting season for wolves. The group collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but instead of letting the voters decide, our Republican-led Legislature sidestepped the initiative by giving the Natural Resources Commission authority to add animals to the state’s list of game species.
These dirty tricks are becoming more commonplace among conservatives in the legislature. Just last week, after volunteers and workers from the Raise Michigan campaign secured enough signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the November ballot, Senator Randy Richardville introduced a bill designed to squash the entire initiative.
You’d think the politicians we’ve elected would listen to the will of their constituents and welcome any opportunities for them to exercise their right to vote – it is their job and the cornerstone of our democracy, after all. Unfortunately conservatives simply don’t trust voters to make important decisions and will apparently do whatever they can to keep them from exercising their most fundamental right. If this keeps up, democracy might be the newest addition on next year’s Endangered Species list.