Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act is a democratic initiative for sound science

Drew YoungDyke On the Ground Drew YoungeDyke
From MLive on 8/5/2014 - Click HERE for original article

MLIVE Guest Article from Drew YoungeDyke

Drew YoungeDyke is the grassroots and public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, a spokesman for Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, and a member of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

The MLive Media Group editorial board has once again cited an out-of-state special interest group’s talking points and its own misleading headlines to justify its opposition to citizen-initiated legislation to ensure sound science is the determining factor in fish and wildlife management in Michigan.

It claims that the Legislature is poised to “hijack” a public process from voters, but it was registered Michigan voters acting through the public process who have petitioned their state government to protect Michigan’s natural resources management from being hijacked by out-of-state special interests.

In its editorial, MLive argues that the anti-hunting referendum from the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was supported by “hundreds of thousands” of citizens. Actually, that number was about 182,000 registered voters. The Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, though, which MLive opposes, is supported by the signatures of almost 300,000 registered Michigan voters. That’s 63% more voters asking the Legislature to pass the bill to affirm scientific management than those trying to repeal it.

MLive is siding with an organization, HSUS, which recently had its charity rating stripped by the nation’s top charity evaluator, Charity Navigator. Despite their television commercials asking you to donate to them to shelter puppies and kittens, they spend much of their money on anti-hunting and anti-farming initiatives like they ones they’re financing here, in Missouri, in Maine and at the federal level. And they recently had to pay over $15 million to settle a RICO lawsuit after paying off a witness in a frivolous lawsuit against Ringling Brothers. This is who MLive apparently believes should control decisions on wildlife management in Michigan, through misleading political ads, rather than professional biologists.

MLive further went on to cite the actions of one farmer in one location and the misstatements of a legislator as the supposed reasons for the hunt. They claimed that an incident described by the legislator never happened, but the legislator just mixed up the details of an actual incident and then apologized for it. But those weren’t the reasons for a hunt. The basis for the hunt was the DNR’s draft conservation order memo to the Natural Resources Commission, drafted by professional biologists, which detailed livestock and pet depredations, complaints of wolves acting fearlessly around humans in multiple regions of the Upper Peninsula, along with radio collar and pack dynamics data.

The Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act does not guarantee a wolf hunt. It only keeps the option open if supported by sound science and if the DNR’s professional biologists need it as part of their overall wolf management strategy, which also includes other lethal and nonlethal methods. HSUS’s referendums, if both passed, would effectively ban that management tool no matter what the science and the data suggest, because it would keep them off the game species list necessary for a hunt to occur without an additional change in law, subject to additional endless referendums. Being listed as a game species does not mean that there will be a hunting season, only that the option is open to biologists if supported by sound science.

We democratically elected our state representatives and senators, whom we are asking to vote on the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. We democratically elected our Governor, and the governors before him, who appoint the Natural Resources Commission members on staggered terms and must appoint them on a bipartisan basis. We democratically voted – with 68% of the vote – to enact Proposal G in 1996, which requires the Natural Resources Commission to use sound science. And we democratically initiated legislation to affirm that principle and protect our state’s natural resources management from out-of-state special interests with the signatures of almost 300,000 voters, over 115,000 more signatures than those special interests collected.

Now we are asking our democratically-elected legislators to listen to their constituents and pass the democratically initiated legislation that protects our natural resources management and affirms a democratically voted upon principle that, in our state, we use sound science to make fish and wildlife conservation decisions, not the talking points of an out-of-state special interest group with an anti-hunting agenda. And if MLive purports to serve the people of Michigan, it should call upon the Legislature do the same.

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