House Bill 5078 sponsored by Representative Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) would remove the nine-seat limit on the Michigan Wildlife Council and add requirements for an appointment to be made to two individuals who promote primarily non-consumptive wildlife use as well as a tribal representative and an individual with an advanced degree.
What is more concerning, however, is this bill would also expand the public education of the Michigan Wildlife Council to include spending funds messaging on “The importance of balancing, though the protection of certain species, the needs of animals that have been adversely affected by human activity.”
The Michigan Wildlife Council was originally created in 2013 using Colorado legislation as a model for the purpose of educating the general public who don’t hunt and fish the value of hunting and fishing, from both a conservation and economic perspective. One dollar from every sold base hunting and fishing license goes towards funding the council and its work. All funding of the Michigan Wildlife Council is supported through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses, no general taxpayer funding supports this effort.
We want our positive message about hunters and anglers to be spread to non-consumptive users so they better understand our role in conservation, but going beyond this would be a misuse of this public education fund’s original intent, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter.
“This is like asking the apple marketing committee to promote cherries,” said Trotter. “They both might grow in the same area and people all like fruit, but apple growers don’t want to spend their limited money on cherries too.”
The overall mission for the Michigan Wildlife Council, set in statute: MCL 324.43532B (18), is to:
“Develop and implement, in conjunction with a third-party marketing or advertising agency, a comprehensive media-based public information program to promote the essential role that sportsmen and sportswomen play in furthering wildlife conservation and to educate the general public about hunting, fishing, and the taking of game. That education shall include, but is not limited to, teaching that hunting, fishing, and the taking of game are any of the following:
1) Necessary for the conservation, preservation, and management of this state’s natural resources.
2) A valued and integral part of the cultural heritage of this state and should forever be preserved.
3) An important part of this state’s economy.”
The Michigan Wildlife Council expends $1.6 million annually to conduct this work.