The Michigan Board of Canvassers approved the form of a petition for a citizen-initiated law, called the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, at their meeting this morning. The proposed act would protect the Natural Resources Commission’s ability to name game species and issue fisheries orders, protect free licenses for active military members, and include funding for rapid response activities to keep Asian carp out of Michigan waters.
The petition is sponsored by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management (CPWM), which now must gather at least 258,000 valid signatures in 180 days to place the law before the Legislature. The group will start collecting signatures this week.
“This is about making sure that decisions about fish and wildlife management are made using sound science,” said Merle Shepard, chairman of CPWM.
The Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act provides that the bipartisan Natural Resources Commission may designate game species under a duty to use sound science, that active military members can receive free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, and that the Natural Resources Commission has the exclusive authority to issue fisheries orders. To support the NRC’s ability to manage fisheries, $1 million is appropriated so that the Department of Natural Resources can conduct rapid response activities necessary to prevent and eliminate aquatic invasive species like Asian carp.
“We need to make sure that professional biologists are the ones managing our wildlife,” said Tony Dembowski, president of the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance and a member of the CPWM steering committee.
Supporters of the citizen initiative include Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance, Upper Peninsula Whitetails Association, U.P. Whitetails of Marquette County, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, the Michigan chapters of Safari Club International, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Michigan Bow Hunters, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association, numerous local conservation organizations from around the state, and individuals including former Detroit Tigers great Kirk Gibson and Michigan Out-of-Doors TV host Jimmy Gretzinger.
Logo courtesy Michigan United Conservation Clubs