Michigan Senate panel OKs bill that could allow wolf hunt

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Lansing, Mich • A state Senate panel has voted to let the Michigan Natural Resources Commission decide which animals can be hunted, which could render meaningless a proposed referendum on wolf hunting.

Now only the Legislature can designate wildlife as game species that hunters can pursue. A law enacted in December put wolves on the list. Opponents have gathered petition signatures for a 2014 statewide vote that could overturn the measure.

But a bill approved Thursday by a committee of the Republican-controlled Senate also would let the seven-member Natural Resources Commission designate game species. That could mean wolves are hunted regardless of what voters say.

The Senate's environment committee approved the bill on a party-line vote, with five Republicans in favor and two Democrats opposed. It now goes to the Senate floor.