With most of our minds our on the rut, getting deer camp plans squared away or celebrating/lamenting the game in Ann Arbor, here at the Michigan United Conservation Clubs office we're also anticipating some very important legislative activity this week. Two hunting bills that were featured as priorities at our September 9 Camo at the Capitol rally could see movement in the near future.
Here's a breakdown:
House Bill 4239: Enhance Hunting Access
This bill, introduced by Rep. Charles Smiley (D-Burton) will allow hunters with disabilities to hunt from assistive mobility devices and limit the application of the 150-yard hunting safety zone around buildings to hunting with firearms. This means that trapping and bowhunting would be allowed within 150 yards of buildings, which was a 2015 MUCC Policy Resolution sponsored by the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, the Michigan Bow Hunters and the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation.
The bill originally passed the full House of Representatives in May, was amended to include the safety zone language in the Senate Outdoor Tourism and Recreation Committee, and passed the Senate unanimously two weeks ago. The bill must receive a vote from the House of Representatives to concur in the safety zone amendment and then be signed into law by Governor Snyder, which we are advocating to happen as soon as possible to improve hunting access for this hunting season.
Senate Bills 244-246: Increase Poaching Penalties
This bill package, also based on a 2015 MUCC Policy resolution, will increase poaching restitution fees and hunting license revocation penalties for elk, moose, bear, turkey, waterfowl, eagle and hawk poachers. The package passed the Senate unanimously in May and has passed the House Natural Resources Committee with an amendment also increasing penalties for illegally-set snares. The bill must receive a vote in the full House of Representatives, go back to the full Senate for concurrence, and then be signed into law by Gov. Snyder.
We expect swift movement on this package, which is important to protecting hunting rights by sending a message to the non-hunting public that Michigan's hunters do not tolerate poaching.