Locations of game species obtained using scientific studies and monitoring will no longer be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests after bipartisan-sponsored House Bill 4050 was signed into law last week.
Sponsored by Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint), this legislation was drafted after Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff noted that an individual was using FOIA to obtain the specific location of grouse through drumming surveys and using the information to hunt the species. This forced the DNR to discontinue grouse drumming surveys in 2015.
Grouse drumming surveys serve as a population and habitat indicator, and the practice is one of the primary methods for understanding and evaluating population counts. The legislation (Public Act 33 of 2021) protects GPS coordinates of species obtained through “restoration, management or research projects” conducted by the DNR.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) took swift action when this legislation was first introduced by passing an emergency policy resolution through the MUCC Board of Directors. That policy was later codified by a larger delegation of MUCC’s membership and gave the organization direction to advocate for its passage. See the resolution here.
MUCC testified in front of the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee and Senate Natural Resources Committee on the matter.
“Fair chase has been and will always be a guiding principle of MUCC and its members,” said Ian FitzGerald, MUCC policy coordinator. “Working across the aisle to navigate the delicacies of public information while simultaneously bettering fair chase and Michigan’s game populations again proved that conservation issues can and should be nonpartisan.”
Rep. Cherry said passage of this bill helps further Michigan’s stewardship ethic and the responsibility of hunters to defend the scientific processes related to wildlife management.
“In recent years, the Michigan DNR was forced to end grouse drumming surveys due to unsportsmanlike use of FOIA laws to determine the bird’s location, letting folks target those populations for hunting purposes,” said Cherry. “Participating in the traditions of hunting, birdwatching, fishing, and other activities show our love and respect for Michigan’s great outdoor spaces. Along with this enjoyment comes a duty of stewardship. We must ensure our policies protect practical, scientifically-sound wildlife management options.”
Since 1937, MUCC has united citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage – and we do so from Lansing to Washington D.C. Please join us today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC