Good News for Michigan Trappers-CFA Lands Open!

Industrial forestland owners with lands enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act must allow public hunting and fishing on their lands in order toTrappers-Ed receive a significant tax break on their property taxes. Most of this land is found throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula, but there are some parcels in the Southern Lower Peninsula as well.
Public access for hunting and fishing are fairly well defined, and trapping is included in the definition of hunting in Michigan law, but things that are considered "ancillary" to the activity have been only allowed with landowner permission. A 1999 informal opinion from the Attorney General's office said for example that only walk-in access was required by the law and that motorized access was up to the landowner. Unfortunately for trappers, this narrow interpretation meant that trapping was considered an allowable activity, but leaving your traps unattended or overnight was something that was ancillary.
After much discussion over the years over what needed landowner permission and what was allowed by statute, the DNR sought advice from the Attorney General's office again in relation to trapping. What resulted is a very recent response that because hunting doesn't require landowner permission, trapping shouldn't either and that normal trapping typically includes leaving traps unattended for 24-48 hours (which is what MUCC and the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association has been saying all along).
The DNR is now recommending that trapping on Commercial Forest Act lands be allowed, but that practices must conform to regulations on public lands (even though these lands are private). This makes sense because these lands are open and are widely interspersed with State and Federal forest lands as well that are open to hunting and trapping.
To enact these changes, the NRC has a Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment number 15 scheduled for information at this months meeting on September 11 in Lansing and is expected to take action at their October 9th meeting in Cadillac.

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