Court of Appeals rules wolf hunt law unconstitutional

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — A law allowing people to hunt wolves in Michigan is unconstitutional, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.

The three-judge court issued an opinion Wednesday and unanimously ruled the law allowing the wolf hunt violates the “title-object clause” of the state’s constitution.

The federal government removed the gray wolf from its list of endangered species in 2011, but a group that challenged a state law allowing wolf hunting in Michigan claimed there were too few wolves to justify a hunt.

The latest ruling overturns a previous ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims, which allowed wolf hunting after the Legislature approved an act allowing the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to say which animals were fair game in 2014.

After years of back and forth over the status of wolves, a federal judge in December of 2015 put wolves in the Great Lakes region on the list of protected animals again. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources appealed that classification.

The change in status was questioned by many Michigan residents who argued the state’s wolf population in the Upper Peninsula needs to be managed because of the risk of attacks to domestic animals and possibly even humans.

Judges Donald Owens, Joel Hoekstra and Jane Beckering issued the latest opinion Wednesday.