Governor Rick Snyder signed Senate Bills 288 and 289 into law today. The bills allow the Natural Resources Commission to name game species, protect the rights to hunt and fish, and were supported by Michigan’s conservation community.

“We thank Governor Snyder for continuing Michigan’s tradition of separating conservation from politics today,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “These bills protect the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers, and ensure that wildlife management decisions are based on the recommendations of biologists, not out-of-state anti-hunters.”

SB 288 extends the Natural Resources Commission (NRC)’s authority and sound science mandate to naming animals to the game species list, while retaining the Legislature’s authority to do the same and its exclusive authority to remove game species. SB 288 also grants the NRC the exclusive authority to issue fisheries orders, which currently rests with the director of the Department of Natural Resources, and also provides free licenses to active-duty members of the military. SB 289 establishes the rights to hunt and fish in state law, and makes protection of those rights a purpose of the Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

Conservation groups herald the bills as an extension of voter-approved Proposal G of 1996, which granted the Natural Resources Commission exclusive authority over game management and required it to use sound science in its wildlife management decisions.

“This is an enhancement of Proposal G,” said Merle Shepard, Michigan state director for Safari Club International. “It puts Michigan on track to manage its wildlife species using sound science.”

Opponents of the bill included the Washington, D.C.-based anti-hunting organization Humane Society of the United States. Natural Resources Commission orders are administrative decisions not subject to ballot referendum, which the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is trying to use to prevent the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from using public hunting as a management tool to prevent wolf depredations in the Upper Peninsula, as outlined in Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan.

“Our members have lost dogs and pets to wolves,” said Joe Hudson, president of the Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association. “We’re happy to see that the DNR will finally have the management tools it needs to help limit wolf conflicts up here and that decisions about how it manages wildlife will be made based on sound science, not television commercials.”

Founded in 1937, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is the largest state-specific conservation organization in the country. Its mission is to conserve, defend and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.

Logo courtesy Michigan United Conservation Clubs

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