Case Study 1: Shifts in Market Supply and Demand

Estimated Length 1-2 pages

As part of a discussion about natural resources and scarcity, view the following video clip about wolf hunting in Michigan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLzdBEPd0Zg

Gray wolves are native to Michigan but were nearly wiped out in the 19th and early 20th centuries by hunting and state-sanctioned bounties. In 1973, when Congress created the federal endangered species list, only six wolves were known to still exist in the Michigan wild, and gray wolves were considered an endangered species. By 2007, the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula topped 500 — far exceeding the recovery benchmark of 100 set by the federal government, making the Great Lakes gray wolf one of the most successful recovery stories in the history of the endangered species list. At the same time, however, some Upper Peninsula and farmers reported that wolves were killing livestock and domestic animals.

In December 2012, less than a year after wolves were removed from the list, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill designating wolves game animals. It was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder and became Public Act 520. The new law cleared the way for the Natural Resources Commission — a seven-member body appointed by the governor — to establish a hunting season for wolves. Proponents, including the State Department of Natural Resources, cited several reasons for backing wolf hunts. The DNR told lawmakers at a hearing that hunting would be one of many tools used by wildlife officials to control the wolf population.

Wolf hunting opponents such as Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and the Humane Society of the United States quickly organized against the law, gathering signatures to place a citizen referendum on the November 2014 ballot that would overturn Public Act 520. The measure was designed to suspend implementation of the wolf hunting law.

A month later, State Sen. Tom Casperson, introduced a bill to grant the Natural Resources Commission the authority to designate animals as game species without legislative approval. That bill cleared the Legislature and was signed into law in May 2013 as Public Act 21. It basically circumvented the wolf hunt opposition’s initiative by putting in place a law that that could pave the way for another wolf hunt even if voters overturned Public Act 520. As a result, hunts were held in November and December in three areas of the Upper Peninsula. Twenty-two wolves were killed.

Write a reflection on the issue and discuss the following:
•Clearly define the economic problem presented in the video.
•What role do you think the government has to manage or not to manage scarce resources like wolves?
•Consider whether the needs of the local residents/hunters or the needs of wolves/ animal rights activists are of greater social and economic consequence?
•What scarcity problem did Public Act 21 try to address?
•Was it an appropriate solution for the problem?
•How might it solve the problem presented?
•What might have been the consequences had the bill not passed?
•Do you believe the bill should have been passed?

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