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Keeping the Debate Honest in Michigan

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On June 21st, 2013, Wolfwatcher’s Great Lakes Director, Nancy Warren, debated the issues regarding the Michigan wolf hunt with State Senator Tom Casperson, the architect of the wolf hunt law (PA 21) on live radio at WUPY 101.1 FM in Ontonagon, Michigan.  Subsequent to the radio discussion, we received many comments from people who said they appreciated hearing the dialogue. 

Of particular interest, several supporters raised questions about a comment made by Sen. Casperson during the show.   During the dialog, when Senator Casperson was asked why he supported SB 288/HB1350  (now PA 21), he stated that he had received a letter from Dr. Rolf Peterson [PhD, Wildlife Ecology, Purdue University; presently, Research Professor—Robbins Chair, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Tech. University.]  In that letter, Sen. Casperson reported on the air that Dr. Peterson recommended that the NRC designate the wolf as a game animal.  

To confirm the Sen. Casperson’s response to the question, Nancy Warren consulted Sen. Casperson, himself.    His staffer, Kendra Everett, responded with this statement on June 23rd:

“Thank you for contacting Senator Casperson about the recent discussion on Media Meet. Senator Casperson asked me to reply to your message and let you know that he understands your position but stands by his reading of the letter and what he believes to be Dr. Wolf’s (?) comment.  If he would like to retract his comments, he is welcome to do so.  Thanks again for sharing your perspective.    Kendra Everett

To further confirm Dr. Peterson’s position,  Nancy went directly to the source.

Dr. Peterson’s testimony to the Senate Natural Resources Committee in November 2012 was quite cogent.   Note that Dr. Peterson does not support the designation of the wolf as a game animal, nor did he recommend to the NRC that they make that they make such a determination.  Dr. Peterson did say that the details of a license fee should be made by the NRC and not legislators.  Excerpts of Dr. Peterson’s statement include:

“I urge members of this committee to oppose passage of SB1350, on the grounds that it is based on an incorrect premise clearly stated by Senator Casperson on his website — that wolf numbers in Michigan far exceed population goals…”

 “I am surprised that T. Casperson presents, on his website, a surprisingly one-sided view about wolves – all negative. Again, members of this committee should study the MWMP (Michigan Wolf Management Plan), which recommends in some detail how wolf-human coexistence might be fostered in a positive sense. “

“I think there are several areas where wolves are already playing a role in remaking the Upper Michigan ecosystem. The total positive economic impact would be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. I presume Senator Casperson is interested in my views, since I am one of his constituents.”

To make absolutely certain the record was clear, Nancy informed Dr. Peterson of Sen. Casperson’s statement on the radio.  Immediately thereafter, Dr. Peterson, sent the following email to Senator Casperson:

Dear Senator Casperson – I understand there was incorrect information given out in your recent radio interview on my communications with the Michigan Senate regarding bills concerning a wolf hunt which you introduced to the Michigan Senate last year.  I did not state, as you claimed, that the NRC was the appropriate body to designate game species, and I did not send you a personal letter (of course, you would have received my testimony on the bill you introduced).  I called your office in advance of submitting the testimony on SB1350, in order to discuss your portrayal of alleged population targets for wolves in Michigan, but I never received a response of any sort from you or your staff.   In the email exchange provided below, my testimony is accurately quoted.  I think it would be appropriate for you to correct any misinformation that was broadcast.Thank you for your attention to this matter.    Rolf Peterson

Since so many Michigan constituents listened to this radio broadcast with great interest, Nancy  urged Lee Kenny, host of WUPY 101.1 FM Ontonagon, Michigan, to clarify the record with the correct information on the air during a future radio program. She also expressed interest in continuing the discussion with Sen. Casperson on the air during a future program.

More to come…


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