Jack and Kai Rosenhauer planting near Canoe Lake, UP
2014 turned out to be a good year for sportsmen and women of the state. Both the Legislature and the Governor showed a renewed commitment to the hunting, fishing, and trapping this year. The pro-conservation bills that were advanced by the legislature and the increase in funding for the DNR during the budget process emphasizes that all of your hard work is paying off.
As someone that works in Lansing on a daily basis the above statement is something I see and work on daily. But for many of you that live elsewhere you don’t always get the luxury of seeing the legislature in action on hunting, fishing, and trapping issues. So, below are just a few of the many items that MUCC worked on this past year to conserve, protect, and enhance our natural resources and outdoor heritage.
HB 5226: BEAR CROP DAMAGE PERMITS
While this bill was not an MUCC priority it was a bill that when it was introduced we, along with the MI Bear Hunters, Hunting Dog Federation, and the UP Bear Houndsmen had severe concerns with. As introduced the bill was too open ended and had the ability to erode the traditional bear hunting season. But thanks to the hard work of the above listed groups and the bill sponsor, Rep McBroom, willingness to work with us on this issue we were able to reach an agreement that served all the interested parties involved.
SB 613: ROAD KILL
Again, this bill was not an MUCC priority bill that we worked on before it was introduced but once it was we played a large part in the final version. As introduced Senator Booher’s bill basically eliminated the need to acquire a salvage tag for any animal killed or following a collision with a vehicle, including many limited-harvest fur bearer species.
MUCC and several other groups including the Wild Turkey Federation, MI Bear Hunters, and the MI Trappers all opposed it as it allowed poachers could to use the law to take game out of season. But again, thanks to the above groups and the willingness of Senator Booher, we were able to reach a compromise that made it easier to possess game killed by a vehicle without making it easier for poachers to poach.
SB 869: BASS SEASON BILL
This bill was an MUCC priority for 2014 and we are very pleased that it was passed and signed into law. Its contents are actually quite simple but what it accomplishes is a big victory for Bass anglers all over the state.
In 2013 legislation was approved that gave the Natural Resources Commission authority to set fishing seasons, but bass season dates were specifically outlined in a different state law. Quite simply SB 869, sponsored by Senator Hansen, removed language in the law that sets bass season dates at the Saturday before Memorial Day through Dec. 31. Now the NRC now has the ability to extend the season. We are working with the NRC in hopes to see them do this in the coming months!
HB 5191: HELMETS ON PRIVATE LAND
This bill sponsored by Rep. Rendon allows individuals to operate an ORV on private property without wearing a helmet. It also allowed invited guests, who are over the age of 18, to choose whether or not they wanted to wear a helmet.
MUCC and its members supported this bill and provided input on some minor changes throughout the legislative process. Our members feel strongly that if they are simply riding their ORV to their blind or using one to transport game out of the woods they should be able to do so without the use of a helmet. We were very pleased to work with Rep Rendon to get this important bill passed in 2014.
SB’S 795-800: INVASIVE SPECIES PACKAGE
This package of bills led by Senator Kowall seeks to address the continued threat of invasive species in Michigan.
This bill package increases the fines for the illegal possession of aquatic invasive species; allows for the seizure of all equipment used in the introduction, possession and sale of these species; allow for the suspension of related commercial licenses; and suspend the responsible persons right to fish and hunt in Michigan.
MUCC supported this package of bills and we are happy that individuals who knowingly bring invasive species into our state will be punished accordingly.
SB’S 926 & 927: UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES PACKAGE
These two bills sponsored by Senator’s Casperson and Pavlov sought to clarify current Michigan law by outlawing the use of aerial drones in hunting and as a tool to harass hunters.
The two bills would quite simply would make it illegal to use an aerial drone to harass a hunter or angler who is lawfully taking game, and make it illegal to take game with the use of the drone. There was no opposition to the bills as they made their way through the legislative process this year. Both bills cleared the Senate unanimously and received the same support in the House, however due to it being a lame duck year in the legislature, we simply ran out of time before they adjourned for the year.
Not to worry though as these bills have already been drafted again and the sponsors have agreed to introduce them shortly after the start of the new year. Please check back in 2015 for updated bill numbers so that you can follow their progress through the legislature.
SCIENTIFIC FISH & WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ACT
While this is last on our list it certainly is not least! This is single handedly the most important piece of conservation legislation the State of Michigan has seen in the last decade. And we won!
I am sure you all quite familiar with this issue by now but please humor me as we at MUCC like to brag about what we, that includes all of you, accomplished with this initiative. The Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act or SFWCA was citizen initiated piece of legislation that garnered over 375,000 signatures from citizens all across the state. In August it was passed by both the Senate and House of Representative and became law.
The SFWCA accomplishes three things: first, it allows the Natural Resources Commission to name game species and issue fisheries orders using sound science. It creates a $1 million rapid response fund to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species, and lastly it provides free hunting and fishing licenses for active military members.
This may seem benign on the surface but it was huge win for Michigan hunters, fishers, and trappers as it ensured that decisions about game and fish seasons remained in the hands of experts at the DNR. Radical out of state anti-hunters have been chipping away at our rights for years and this is an important step to protecting the rights to hunt, fish and trap in Michigan.
The above items are just a handful of the legislative items that were worked on this past year in the Michigan Legislature. If you have questions about something you read or if you don’t see an issue listed above and you want more information on it, please don’t hesitate to visit our webpage or call the office.
The above accomplishments would not have been possible without your help and assistance and myself and the rest of the MUCC staff thank you! We look forward to what 2015 has in store for us and hope that you will stay involved to ensure it’s another great year for conservation.
Thank you and Merry Christmas.