Commercial Guiding Bills: What’s Myth and What’s Fact?

The Senate Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee passed out an MUCC-supported commercial guiding package (SBs 103,104 and 105) today. 

Commercial guiding in Michigan is woefully unregulated. Nothing in state law prevents a serial poacher or felon from guiding. For more than 10 years, Michigan United Conservation Clubs has worked to provide much-needed sideboards for an industry profiting off Michiganders’ natural resources.

Recently, myths and mistruths have made the rounds in the media. The conservation, guiding, and natural resources communities have united behind this legislation and are working to help folks better understand what the package would and would not do.

To stay up to date on Senate Bills 103, 104 and 105 and and all of MUCC’s work on commercial guiding, sign up for our action and information center HERE.

Myth: This legislation represents the most restrictive guiding regulations in the nation

This is a laughable assertion. 

Guides in Western states sometimes pay thousands to be licensed. In some states, those same guides have to be licensed under an outfitter that also pays thousands of dollars to be licensed. 

There are states that require competency tests, too. This legislation would bring Michigan in line with most of its Great lakes neighbors in terms of the fees and requirements of commercial guides.

Myth: The list of requirements is too burdensome and costly

To acquire a guide license, one must:

  • Have a valid hunting/fishing license
  • Have a driver’s license, state identification card, or a sportscard.
  • Be CPR/First Aid certified
  • Carry a First Aid kit. 
  • Be free of violations of specific game laws in the last three years and have no felonies.
  • Pay a $150 fee for a three-year guide license. The fee is waived for existing charter captains regulated by the Coast Guard. 

In sum, $50 a year, being First Aid and CPR certified and not being a convicted poacher or felon are not high bars to ask of a guide.

Myth: I cannot take friends or family hunting and fishing on my private property

Fact: Hunting on private property is exempted in the bill. 

Myth: My friend cannot give me money for gas or buy lunch

Fact: There needs to be “consideration of value” exchanged to be considered guiding. This is defined as “an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit, including monetary payment accruing to an individual or person.” 

Voluntary sharing of fuel expenses does not constitute commercial guiding under this legislation. Neither does the donation of food, beverages, or other supplies. 

Myth: I cannot take kids or other new hunters hunting

Fact: Lacking a consideration of value or if you are on private land, it is still permitted to take a child or anyone else hunting. 

Myth: If I have to report location and harvest data, individuals can then FOIA my “secret spots”

Fact: Under existing state law, the individual’s data, including location, used for biological purposes are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. 

Myth: Charter captains are already regulated intensely by the Coast Guard, why add on?

Fact: The coast guard tightly regulates charter captains that operate in Great Lakes and connecting waterways. As such, this legislation exempts them from the $150 three-year fee and does not add more requirements than what the Coast Guard requires.

Myth: I have a criminal record and now I cannot guide

Fact: The legislation prohibits felons and people convicted of certain game violations in the last three years from guiding. Some of these game violations include:

  • Hunter/Angler harassment
  • Possession of unlawfully taken game or fish
  • Possession of invasive species
  • Illegal possession of a lake sturgeon
  • Possession of a protected species
  • Buying or selling game
  • Illegally constructing or using a snare or cable restraint
  • Importation of cervid carcass other than deboned meat or hide
  • Using explosives as a means of taking fish
  • Snagging fish

Myth: If I am a guide and fail to report on time I now have a criminal record

Fact: Guiding without a license or failing to report are civil infractions under this legislation. Civil infractions are not a part of your “criminal record.”

Myth: How can my favorite conservation non-profit run learn-to-hunt programs without becoming a guide?

Fact: MUCC and other non-profit organizations are exempted from the guiding requirement if they host events to recruit, retain or reactivate a hunter/angler. 

To stay up to date on Senate Bills 103, 104 and 105 and all of MUCC’s work on commercial guiding, sign up for our action and information center HERE.

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