MUCC Supports HB 4993, Bill to Educate Public on Michigan’s Outdoor HeritageSeptember 25th, 2013
A bill introduced into the House of Representatives last week has the potential to be a future game-changer for sportsmen and women in Michigan.
Representative Jon Bumstead (R – Newaygo) recently introduced House Bill 4993 which would create a sportsmen’s council that would oversee the implementation of a statewide public education campaign geared toward educating the public on the valuable role of hunting, fishing and trapping for wildlife management, for our economy, and for our outdoor future.
The bill is based on a concept used in Colorado, where in the early 1990s sportsmen and women there saw the loss of trapping and hunting with bait in successive elections at the ballot box. In the wake of these unprecedented losses, Colorado sportsmen came together to create a funding mechanism and council composed of sportsmen to educate the public on the public benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping. (Click here for more information on the Colorado Model.)
Stemming from this innovative funding concept were Colorado’s “Hug a Hunter” and “Hug an Angler” campaigns which were very successful in the state. The campaign focused on shared interests of sportsmen and non-sportsmen. It urged all citizens to take pride in the state’s natural beauty and to recognize that much of the conservation funding comes from Hunting and Fishing license fees.
A survey of Colorado citizens after the establishment of the campaign showed:
- 7 of 10 polled said they’d vote against restrictions on hunting
- 8 of 10 said they’d vote against restrictions on fishing
- 30% said they had become more supportive of sportsmen after the campaign
In the midst of Michigan’s own anti-hunting ballot issues, Governor Snyder recently signed into law a bill that restructured and revamped Michigan’s hunting and fishing licenses. Part of the new restructure was adding a $1 surcharge to each base hunting license and fishing license purchased that is to go to a fund for public education on the value and benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping.
Based on the same successful model used in Colorado, Representative Bumstead’s HB 4993 creates an independent council called the Wildlife Council that will be tasked with administering the $1 surcharge fund and hiring a marketing firm to research and develop the media driven public education campaign. The Wildlife Council will consist of:
- The DNR Director or his/her designee
- Four individuals who have regularly purchased hunting or fishing licenses (at least one must be a hunter, at least one must be an angler)
- One individual representing a local hunting/fishing business
- One individual representing agricultural producers
- One individual with a media or marketing background
- One individual representing rural areas where economies are substantially impacted by hunting and fishing
The positions will be appointed by the DNR Director from candidate lists provided by Michigan sportsmen’s organizations. The Director should take great care to appoint individuals from all geographic areas of the state, and at least one member must be from the Upper Peninsula.
As Michigan sportsmen and women continue to stare down anti-hunting interests in this state, there is perhaps no greater way we could invest some of our hunting and fishing license fee dollars than on a public education campaign aimed at the general public. It’s important not only for educating people today, but equally important for our sporting heritage and traditions in this state by building an understanding and appreciation of hunting, fishing and trapping for generations to come.
The passage of HB 4993 will be one of MUCC’s main priorities in the legislature this fall, and we hope you will join us in winning another battle to protect our hunting, fishing and trapping future.