New Hunting, Fishing Policies Proposed at MUCC Regional Meetings in Escanaba, Gaylord

Michigan United Conservation Clubs is a grassroots organization, which means that our policy is decided by our members. Members introduce resolutions, which , if adopted, become the policy that MUCC staff works to enact. This past weekend, northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula members took advantage of the opportunity to turn their ideas into state policy by introducing resolutions at regional meetings in Escanaba and Gaylord. After passing the Regional meetings, resolutions must go on to be approved at the Annual Convention in June for them to become MUCC's formal policy or position on an issue.
The MUCC Region I (Upper Peninsula) meeting was held Saturday at the DNR Pocket Park at the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba. Attendees included members of the U.P. Whitetails Association, Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club, Taquamenon Sportsmen’s Club, Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club, the National Wild Turkey Federation, MUCC Board members and staff, individual members like outdoor writer Richard P. Smith and outdoors radio host Tim Kobasic, and guests like Natural Resources Commission chair J.R. Richardson, DNR staff and members of the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance.
Before policy resolutions were introduced, MUCC staff gave updates on the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management petition to protect hunting rights, provide free military licenses and fight Asian carp, as well as upcoming On the Ground volunteer habitat projects in the Upper Peninsula and MUCC’s efforts to protect public hunting and fishing access. MUCC Statewide VP George Lindquist gave an update of the progress of recent MUCC resolutions, many of which have since been enacted into state law.
Terry Minzy, the DNR’s Wildlife Supervisor for the U.P., and Stacey Welling-Haughey, DNR UP Coordinator, gave updates and answered questions about the wolf season, forest management, deer population estimates, forecasts and habitat, and how the increased revenue the DNR is getting from license restructuring will benefit the UP, including the hiring of additional biologists and a large carnivore specialist. J.R. Richardson, chair of the Natural Resources Commission, thanked the attendees for their public involvement in conservation policy and talked about NRC initiatives, including the Family Friendly Fishing program.
After a pasty lunch sponsored by Lake Michigan Armory, members introduced, debated, even argued a little, and ultimately voted on whether to send the resolutions on to the MUCC Annual Convention in June, where delegates representing the full MUCC membership will vote on the resolutions.
The following resolutions proceeded to this year’s Annual Convention (with sponsoring club or member):
1. Expand wolf management units in the eastern UP (Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club)
2. End U.P. deer season by December 10 (U.P. Whitetails Association of Marquette, as amended)
3. Return to unrestricted first tag on U.P. combo license (Richard P. Smith, MUCC Life Member)
4. Allow supplemental winter deer feeding on state land during harsh winters (Richard P. Smith, MUCC Life Member)
5. Eliminate fisheries gear restrictions (Michigan Darkhouse Anglers, as amended)
6. Buyout of buck in APR zones (Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club)
There was much discussion and vigorous debate over some of the resolutions, including some which will not proceed to convention. Some of these may be voted to become MUCC policy at the Annual Convention, and some may not. And some of those that become MUCC policy will eventually become state law or regulation.
The MUCC Region II (northern Lower Peninsula) meeting was held on Sunday at the Northland Sportsmen’s Club in Gaylord. Attendees included members of the Cadillac Sportsmen’s Club, Montmorency County Conservation Club, Alpena Sportsmen’s Club, National Wild Turkey Federation, Northport Sportsmen’s Club, Michigan Sharptailed Grouse, Clare Rod & Gun Club, Northland Sportsmen’s Club, individual members, MUCC Board and Staff, and guests including DNR biologist Brian Mastenbrook, Huron Pines staff and Gaylord Herald-Times outdoor columnist Chris Engle.
Abby Ertel of Huron Pines gave a presentation on the Kirtland Warbler Initiative and MUCC staff gave an update on the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Initiative, the On the Ground volunteer habitat program and the upcoming Land Plan Town Hall Meeting, which will be hosted by Rep. Wayne Schmidt and co-organized by MUCC on Feb. 17 at the Acme Township Hall.
Five resolutions were introduced and all five moved on to the convention, and, as always, there were opposing views on some resolutions:
1. MUCC should remain neutral on Antler Point Restrictions and work toward a better process (Paul Rose, MUCC Past President)
2. Allow nighttime hunting for porcupine with artificial light (Dave Smith)
3. Allow CPL holders to carry knives over three inches (Dave Smith)
4. Move September Youth Hunt to earlier September weekend (MUCC District 17)
5. Make September Youth Hunt “does only” (MUCC District 17)
Regional meetings for southern Michigan regions (III and IV) will be held on February 15 and 16, 2014. Region III will be held Feb. 15 at West Walker Sportsmen’s Club in Grand Rapids, and Region IV will be Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Tri-County Sportsmen’s League in Saline. Visit this page to download the agendas and directions.

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