Legislature Introduces Bills To Better Manage State's Wildlife

Michigan Farm Bureau backs new wildlife management and promotion bills.

Published on: Apr 17, 2013

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.

Legislature Introduces Bills To Better Manage States Wildlife
Legislature Introduces Bills To Better Manage State's Wildlife

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.

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  1. Norm Mackey says:

    The legislative repeal of Proposal G The Michigan Wildlife Management Referendum, Proposal G, was a highly popular 1996 Michigan ballot measure placed there by the state legislature as a substitute for the voter initiative Proposal D, The Michigan Hunting Limit Act, which would have amended the law to limit bear hunting season and prohibit the use of bait and dogs to hunt bear. Instead, Proposal G amended the law giving the Natural Resources Commission exclusive authority to regulate the taking of game in this state. The amendment also required the Commission, to the greatest extent practicable, to use principles of sound scientific management in making decisions regarding the taking of game. Two-thirds of the voters chose the wording that that wildlife should be managed according to sound scientific principles. Unfortunately, "sound scientific principles" was not defined in the law, but it still was good enough for the 68% of Michigan voters who chose to vote for it. We knew what the resulting law said and its limits on NRC and legislative powers, and the specific statement about allowing bear hunting. Also, we were very aware the designation of game animals was being retained by the legislature, with the implied approval and consent of the voters through their merely taking no action and not doing a veto resolution. Only the legislature could designate a game species, and we could regulate the legislature by the veto resolution process afterward to cancel changes politician decided to force. The ploy of an appropriation attached preventing this not having yet been devised. But now, Proposal G's provisions are being slashed and rewritten by sportsmen's clubs and politicians catering to them in Senate Bills 288 and 289. They claim to be preserving or saving a "Proposal G" but I don't know what Proposal G. Obviously it is not the one voters passed, that is fully in effect. If they have other Proposal G - like provisions to put before the voters, very well then. No where in Proposal G did voters endorse the additional things that are having added, such as providing a wolf hunt, preventing the NRC from removing animals from the game list, or eliminating the legislature's approval for adding new game animals, with the approval and consent of the voters through their merely taking no action and not doing a veto resolution. It is a fact that a veto resolution cannot override Proposal G. It can only prevent the changes made by Proposal G being deleted, modified, or added to by the state legislature. Proposal G did not put wolves on the game list, Senator Casperson's law did. There was nothing in Proposal G that said, "Oh, these changes are sacred, not to be modified by veto resolution", nor by further voter initiatives, as the voters learn and mature and change their minds. Or for that matter, simply changed by the legislature, but that was an assumption based on the idea that the veto initiative could protect Proposal G against game law changes. 2014 voter choices get priority over 1996's, potential new election.

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