In the weeks leading up to summer break, the Michigan
state legislature was hard at work passing bills that will benefit sportsmen and Ducks Unlimited.
Public acts 21 and 22 of 2013 outline the use of sound scientific principles in managing Michigan’s natural resources. The two bills grant the state Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the legislature the authority to designate a game species using sound science; grant the NRC the exclusive authority to issue fisheries orders; give Michigan citizens the right to hunt, fish and trap; and provide free licenses to active members of the military. DU staff and volunteers advocated on behalf of this legislation.
DU and many of our conservation partners viewed these bills as an extension of a 1996 voter-approved proposal, which granted the NRC exclusive authority over game management and required it to use sound science in its wildlife management decisions.
The use of sound scientific principles to manage Michigan’s natural resources allowed the NRC to approve a limited wolf-hunting and -trapping season in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The season will begin Nov. 15 and go through Dec. 31, or until the harvest target of 43 wolves is met.
The Michigan legislature also approved a bill to increase hunting and fishing license fees. House Bill 4668 passed the House and Senate, and simplifies the current complex hunting and fishing license fee structure, as well as providing approximately $19 million to fund habitat conservation projects and to hire more on-the-ground conservation officers. Of significance was the price increase of the state duck stamp to $12, which was promoted by the Citizens Waterfowl Advisory Council and Ducks Unlimited, and will help fund the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy Initiative
The last time Michigan experienced a significant hunting and fishing fee increase was 1997. Since that time, the cost of carrying out the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ objectives for fish and wildlife habitat, fish stocking and other conservation-focused activities has increased significantly.
Ducks Unlimited and our many conservation and sportsmen’s-group partners across the state worked together to ensure passage of this bill. The new license fee structure is a strategic investment in Michigan’s great natural resources and is necessary to ensure that the DNR can effectively manage the state’s natural resources, and provide for more and better wetlands for waterfowl and waterfowl hunters into the future.