At the next Natural Resources Commission meeting on September 10th, a topic of discussion will be the Fisheries Order 215, which establishes the statewide warm water species sport fishing regulations. There are several regulation changes proposed for this Order, one of which will require the registration of all bass tournaments and instituting a new Catch-and-Delayed-Release (CDR) bass fishing season on 12 proposed waters for registered bass tournaments only.Read more
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Bills to crack down on poachers have taken the next step forward in the state Senate after being unanimously reported out of the Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism yesterday.
Senate Bills 244, 245 and 246 are a package which raise restitution and hunting licence suspension penalties on elk, moose, bear, turkey, waterfowl and eagles. The legislation was introduced by Senators Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) and Dale Zorn (R-Monroe), and builds upon legislation passed last year to increase poaching penalties on white-tailed deer. Both packages began as Michigan United Conservation Clubs resolutions introduced by Jim Pryce of Tri-County Sportsmen's Club (testifying with fellow MUCC member Bill Houston of the Montmorency County Conservation Club in the video below):
Watch this video of MUCC members Bill Houston and Jim Pryce testifying in support of stronger poaching penalties at the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism last week! Thank you to Senators Pavlov and Zorn for introducing this legislation!
Posted by Michigan United Conservation Clubs on Monday, April 27, 2015
The new package increases the restitution penalty for elk to $5,000 for any elk, and an additional $250 per point for an elk with 8 to 10 points (4x4 to 5x5), and an additional $500 per point for an elk with 11 or more points. Additionally, someone who poaches an elk will lose their hunting license - for any species - for 15 years the first time, and if they poach a second time, they will lose their hunting license for a lifetime!
MUCC members Bill Houston and Jim Pryce testifying in support of the anti-poaching bills at the first committee hearing.
The same penalties apply for poaching moose, except that in addition to the $5,000 base restitution, there is an additional $5,000 for any antlered moose. There is also a $3,500 restitution for bear, $1,500 for an eagle, an additional $1,000 for a bearded turkey (on top of the base $1,500 restitution) and $250-500 for waterfowl, and $500 per waterfowl for subsequent conviction.
It's important to remember that this push to crack down on poachers is coming from the hunting community, not from anti-hunters. When animals are taken outside of the regulations established by state wildlife biologists, it jeopardizes the North American Model of Conservation that we have to make sure that there is game to hunt without jeopardizing the wildlife populations of game species. Also, poaching steals from legal hunters who have purchased the license, which supports wildlife conservation. Poaching is not hunting, but the general public doesn't always make that distinction, so in addition to jeopardizing our conservation system, game populations, stealing from legal hunters and shirking the responsibility to take care of the resource, poaching also jeopardizes hunting rights.
We're very grateful to Senators Pavlov and Zorn for introducing this legislation. It will now go before the full Senate.
From: Michigan DNR
Contact: Sgt. Tom Wanless, 517-284-6026 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815
For the first time, Michigan recorded no fatalities during all hunting seasons in 2014, according to reports compiled by the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division. Ten incidents involving injuries were recorded in the state – nine in the Lower Peninsula and one in the Upper Peninsula.
“We had 10 incidents reported for 2014, which ties with last year for the fewest number of reportable hunting incidents since Michigan started tracking them in the 1940s," said Sgt. Tom Wanless of the DNR's Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement Section.
"What makes 2014 the safest on record is that for the first time we had no fatalities," Wanless added. "Michigan’s hunter education program, and the dedicated volunteer instructors who are the backbone of it, is a big reason we have been experiencing a low number of hunting incidents.”
With more than 729,000 base licenses sold in 2014, Michigan’s hunting injury/fatality rate per license is .001 percent. The base license is required to purchase any hunting license.
Of the 10 incidents reported in 2014, four involved small game hunters, two involved waterfowl hunters and four involved deer hunters. One of the deer hunting incidents occurred during the early antlerless season in September and one was in December’s late antlerless season. Two incidents were reported during the firearm deer hunting season from Nov. 15-30. One incident took place Nov. 20 in Osceola County, while the other happened Nov. 25 in Oakland County at Bald Mountain Recreation Area.
Information on the hunting incidents recorded in 2014 and so far in 2015 can be found online at www.michigan.gov/
The most common question I get asked in my position is - How do I start a cooperative? There are many ways to go about starting up a cooperative. Of over 80 wildlife cooperatives in Michigan, each was started in a slightly different way. What works for one group, may not work for another. What one prospective cooperative leader may be excited about, may not excite another leader, and what the primary focus of one individual may not be of interest to his neighbors.
Cooperatives are primarily a social balance of sorts. They are a give-take situation amongst a group of people. This is why having shared key values is vital to the success of the cooperative. Key values can be as simple as being a hunter. Maybe it is to improve hunting or improving habitat. It is important that the key value, or primary focus, of the cooperative be rather general. This allows for a broad spectrum of membership and involvement.
If you are thinking of starting a cooperative, your first step is to really think about what the primary focus could be of the cooperative. Think about what you want to create with your neighbors. Keep in mind that they may have different passions, goals, etc., than you. Think about how you can engage different ideas from your neighbors. If you primary focus is to improve deer hunting in your area, think about what that means for you. For many guys, it is improving the sex ratio, age structure, and habitat. These are also areas that can cause a divide between hunters. How can you find common ground to focus on?
Once you have thought through your goals and what you would like to see, talk to some of your neighbors you are closest to. Your goal needs to be to understand where your neighbors are at. Share in minimal detail why you want to start an organized cooperative. Then ask them what they think and what their goals are. It is really important to listen rather than talk at this point. Even if they are in disagreement with where you are at, this doesn't mean they won’t provide some solid support to your cooperative. Use these opportunities to find out where your neighbors are at. After listening to the thoughts of your neighbors, think about where the commonalities and differences are.
Some of the most successful cooperatives started out with some strong clashes in opinions. The resolution to these conflicts were based on coming back to understanding what the primary focus was. There had to be agreement that all parties wanted better deer hunting in the cooperative, and members had to come to a place of accepting that “better hunting” was different to each person.
The unique thing about cooperatives, is that they bring together private landowners who have every right to make their own management decisions that fit within the legal boundaries. Cooperatives maintain individual rights and opinions. They also have the ability to facilitate changes of opinions and behaviors. Just be warned that some of the changes may be yours.
So to answer the question, “How do I start a cooperative?” I suggest you go talk to your neighbors, and identify who is going to be an invested neighbor who can help mold and shape the cooperative. Ask them about how they feel about their current hunting experiences. Ask them what they would like to see changed. Ask them what benefit they see in having a community of hunters talking about harvest and habitat. Once you have talked to several neighbors, hold a meeting where you can all talk about goals and guidelines for the cooperative. If there seems to be a promising fit, and agreement of what the primary focus of the group is - great! Your next step is to outreach to bring in more people and formalize the cooperative goals and guidelines.
Interested in learning more or want some help walking through these beginning stages? Help is available to you. Feel free to call 517-346-6454 or email email@example.com me directly.
by Lia Biondo, MUCC Policy Intern
An annual tradition, Michigan’s free fishing weekend is scheduled for February 14-15. All fishing license fees are waived for Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15. All other fishing regulations still apply.
This is a great occasion to spend Valentine’s Day out on the ice with that special someone! Michigan is home to 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.
The goal of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend is to offer some of the finest freshwater fishing to those who may not regularly have that opportunity. Research shows that youth especially are suffering from not being able to enjoy the outdoors as much as past generations. If you know a child who has yet to experience the thrill of ice fishing, this weekend would be an excellent chance to “hook” them on the activity, free of charge!
Additionally, the free fishing weekend exposes an otherwise non-fishing public to the great work done throughout the year by our DNR Fisheries Division. Offering someone their first fishing opportunity can be a huge step in bridging the gap between knowledge and understanding. Those who have fished before are more likely to connect with the natural aquatic ecosystem and understand the rules and regulations that come with protecting that resource.
The next free fishing weekend is scheduled for the coming warmer months, on June 13 and 14, 2015.
To find Winter Free Fishing Weekend events in your area, check out the DNR’s official list of registered events by clicking HERE.
To find even more piers and fishing access locations, click HERE.
by Matt Evans, MUCC Legislative Manager
Last night Governor Snyder gave his fifth State of the State address before a joint session of the legislature. As expected he touched on a variety of topics providing the Legislature and people of the state a road map of sorts as to what his priorities are for 2015.
As State of the State addresses tend to go, Snyder did not dive into great detail, rather choosing to stick to broad ideas and topics. He threw out his obligatory plug to support the road funding ballot initiative in May. We heard him talk about supporting education, the expansion of the Elliott Larsen Act, and the need for a skilled workforce in Michigan. But Snyder’s main focal point was his desire to reinvent state government. He believes that too many people are dependent on the system and it’s failing them. Snyder called this the “River of Opportunity” or a general philosophy that creates opportunities for success in people rather than breed dependence on government programs.
While I appreciated his speech and I thought many of his points were well thought out, I was most encouraged by the few sentences Snyder provided early in his address when providing a recap of 2014. As a lobbyist for the hunters, trappers and anglers of the state, this was the most important few sentences of his address.
The Governor did not focus specifically on conservation issues, nor did we expect him to. But, he did offer the sportsmen and women of the state one of his patented “shout outs.” When referring to the accomplishments of 2014 Governor Snyder stated “We did a really important, innovative package, working with our hunters and fishermen in the state. And it wasn’t about just getting more resources, they want to invest. It’s about doing world class management, based on sound science, to really keep our natural resources strong, thriving, have more hunters out there in the woods doing good work, having more fishermen catching big fish. And we’re really making progress in Michigan on that front.”
Again, Snyder did not go into great detail on any one specific conservation issue from 2014 or for 2015 for that matter. It was a broad mention, but it was an important mention for the sportsmen and women of the state. If you break down these few sentences you can see that Snyder was referring to a number of different items that were either passed or enacted last year that he supported. The “innovative package” he mentioned was the new hunting and fishing license package that took effect last year, providing a much needed boost in revenue for Michigan’s outdoors.
Snyder’s mention of “world class management” can only be attributed to the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act that was passed by the legislature in August. Even though Snyder did not need to sign the final product, his comments signify his support for our efforts and his support for the continued science based management of our game & fish seasons.
The Governor’s last comment regarding hunters in the woods doing work can be directly attributed to MUCC’s award winning volunteer program entitled On the Ground (OTG). This past August Snyder and other legislators volunteered for an OTG project in the UP, planting berry-producing shrubs that provide food and cover for grouse.
The Governor’s brief comment about the hunters, trappers, and anglers may have seemed benign at first but upon deeper inspection you realize how meaningful it really was. To me, it signified that he was and still is paying attention to the sportsmen and women of Michigan. With his comment, Snyder signaled his continued commitment to Michigan’s great outdoors!
The sportsmen and women of Michigan have made great strides the last few years to make our state a world class hunting, fishing, and trapping destination. We look forward to continuing that work with the Governor, the Legislature and all of the sportsmen and women of the State.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the speech last night and you would like to, here is a link to Governors Snyder’s full State of the State address.
by Matt Evans, MUCC Legislative Manager
Governor Rick Snyder is set to give his 2015 State of the State address this evening before a joint session of the state legislature, leg cast and all.
This will be Governor Snyder’s fifth address since taking office in 2011 and his first since being re-elected last November. His speech will start at 7:00pm and will detail his policy agenda for the coming year. State of the State addresses often lack specific policy details, but it does set the stage for many important public policy debates and budget negations.
These addresses provide a rare glimpse into the mind of our State’s Governor and allows us to see what he will be spending most of his time on for the coming year. For the average citizen it gives you an idea of what to expect from the Governor, what his priorities will be, and where he will be spending his time. We don’t know the specific details of his speech yet, we will find out just like you at 7:00pm tonight but I expect we will hear about the road funding ballot initiative, energy initiatives, education, skilled trades, and hopefully a little something about conservation.
Here at MUCC we will be watching the address with the hope that Governor Snyder provides us a sign that he will continue to prioritize conservation in Michigan. He has shown us the past few years that he values the sportsmen and women of the state and we very much look forward to him continuing that trend in 2015. I hope that you too will watch or listen to the address tonight so as to stay informed and up to date on the issues of 2015.
You can likely find the Governor’s address on your local TV channels but you’ll also be able to view it online. There are a number of websites including Mlive, Michigan House and a variety of others that will be streaming the address live at 7:00pm tonight. And, if you’re really in the mood for more politics than most can handle in one day, you should tune in at 9:00pm tonight for President Obama’s State of the Union address. Two addresses’ in one night is a lot to handle but they are worth watching if you have the time. But if you don’t check back tomorrow and we’ll have a recap of what the Governor said in his address.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 9, 2014
Contact: Brent Rudolph, 517-641-4903, ext. 248; Ashley Autenrieth, 989-732-3541; or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815
DNR finds 2014 firearm deer harvest down from last year
The 2014 firearm deer season wrapped up Nov. 30, and challenging conditions and lower deer numbers in some areas likely have led to fewer deer being taken this year. Each year the Department of Natural Resources generates preliminary estimates of the firearm deer harvest shortly after the season closes. Those estimates are later replaced by a rigorous assessment of harvest and participation over all deer seasons using an annual hunter mail survey.
The 2014 firearm deer season harvest appears to have decreased in all regions this year, but particularly in the Upper Peninsula. Experiences can differ widely within regions. DNR biologists estimate that, compared to 2013, the harvest was down approximately 30 to 40 percent across the Upper Peninsula, decreased perhaps as much as 10 percent in the northern Lower Peninsula, and was down about 5 percent in the southern Lower Peninsula.
Deer populations in the Upper Peninsula are down after two severe past winters. The DNR significantly reduced antlerless quotas prior to this season and has invested in habitat improvement and research assessing the role of predators, habitat and weather conditions in driving U.P. deer abundance. The 2014 deer season forecast indicated hunters should expect to see fewer deer in the region, and some locations also saw more than 40 inches of snow accumulation before the firearm season opened, making hunting access challenging and driving deer to migrate out of such areas earlier than normal.
“The number of deer brought to our check stations declined as much as 60 percent in some locations, though hunter success was somewhat better in areas with higher deer densities,” noted Upper Peninsula Regional Supervisor Terry Minzey. “Winter severity has moderated since then, but we’ll continue to monitor conditions and regional deer populations through the months to come.”
Deer harvest did not decline so dramatically in the Lower Peninsula. “The tough winter last year did not impact deer populations below the bridge as it did in the Upper Peninsula,” noted Ashley Autenrieth, Wildlife Division deer biologist for the northern regions. “But reduced antler size this season indicated deer condition was affected.”
Concentrations of standing corn that provide secure cover for deer contributed to adverse hunting conditions in some locations. Brent Rudolph, Wildlife Division research specialist, also shared that “department research in one southern Michigan study area indicates deer numbers are still only slowly rebounding following an extensive outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease several summers ago.” The research project is being conducted in collaboration with Michigan State University, with assistance from many hunter volunteers, and also has received financial support from Safari Club International.
Rudolph also stressed the importance of cooperation with Michigan’s hunter harvest survey, what he called “a vital tool for Michigan’s deer program, and another important way in which data provided by hunters contributes to our information base.”
Hunters who do not receive a survey in the mail but who wish to provide their hunting and harvest information may visit www.michigan.gov/deer and select the “Complete a Deer Harvest Survey Online” link. Hunters should only provide this information once they have completed all of their 2014 deer hunting activities.
For more information about hunting opportunities or deer management in Michigan, go online towww.michigan.gov/hunting or www.michigan.gov/deer.
Proposals 1 and 2: A summary of the props as well as the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, compiled by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council.
- "Regardless of the outcomes of the two votes on Proposals 1 and 2, wolf hunting will be allowed beginning with the 2015 hunting season... The adoption of the (Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act) has limited the effect of the two referenda votes to the 2014 wolf hunting season."
- "As a result of the (Endangered Species) listing, the wolf population grew and since 2001 has exceeded recovery goals in Michigan..."
- "In Michigan, hunters were only allowed to hunt in the three Wolf Management Units (WMU) in the U.P. established by the Department of Natural Resources. These regions are where wolves have been deemed problematic for the residents because they have killed livestock and domesticated animals."