Legislation introduced this week to better manage the state's wildlife elicited quick praise from the state's largest farm organization. Citing long-standing policy supporting wildlife control measures that help protect the crops and livestock of its 48,500 farmer members across the state, Michigan Farm Bureau is supporting a the pair of wildlife management bills introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba).
Senate Bill 288 enriches the Natural Resources Commission's (NRC) authority to regulate hunting and fishing, and includes a $1 million appropriation for fish and game management and to bolster education, outreach and recruitment programs to preserve and strengthen Michigan's hunting and fishing legacy.
The appropriation will help fund youth outreach and educational programming about hunting, fishing and trapping; and authorizes free hunting and fishing licenses for members of the military. Funds will also help underwrite research into hunting, fishing, game animals, predators and prey; hunter and angler recruitment and retention; and wildlife population surveys. The bills will also make Michigan eligible for 3-1 matching wildlife restoration grants from the federal government.
"Back in 1996, Michigan voters showed strong support for Proposal G, which was designed to help ensure the state's wildlife resources would be managed according to sound science instead of politics," says MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. "This bill helps further implement the intent of Proposal G by empowering scientists and wildlife professionals at the NRC to determine the best way of managing wildlife species."
Senate Bill 289 amends PA 451 of 1994, Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, to include language codifying protections for "the people's right to hunt and fish," and acknowledges that taking fish and game is "a valued part of the cultural heritage of this state and should be forever preserved."
"Anyone who's lived in Michigan any length of time understands how closely we all identify with this heritage of outdoor recreation," Park says. "Fishing and hunting is deeply rooted in our culture, and this measure will help ensure the stability and growth of that heritage.
"As a hunter myself, I have to say this is an exciting time in Michigan," Park said. "Our state is undergoing a long overdue makeover right now in many ways, so what better time than now to reexamine and overhaul our wildlife management practices and invest in our rich outdoor recreation traditions, just like we're investing in our roads and bridges."
The legislation is also supported by the Safari Club International, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, National Rifle Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association and the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance.