August 28, 2014

House Passes Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act

As you know, hunting is more than just a sport here in Michigan — it’s a tradition. It’s an annual ritual passed down from generation to generation, with families heading out into Michigan’s great outdoors to enjoy the hunting grounds and game that are the envy of hunters across the country.

Michigan’s two peninsulas provide 8 million acres of public hunting land for an average of 986,000 hunters each year. Visitors from other states join Michigan hunters in pumping more than $1.5 billion into our economy, supporting local jobs and businesses and helping workers provide for their families.

I am happy to inform you that the Michigan House of Representatives passed the citizen-initiated Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by a majority vote of 65 to 43. I firmly believe that our state’s conservation, fish and wildlife decisions should be based on sound science and joined a majority of my colleagues by voting in bipartisan support of this citizen-initiated act.

Both chambers passed the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act without changes within the 40 day window allowed under the Michigan Constitution; therefore, the act will now become law in Michigan.

Specifically, the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act protects the authority of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to designate game species and issue fishery orders using sound scientific methods, provides free licenses for active military members, and protects Michigan waters from invasive species such as Asian carp through a $1 million appropriation to the Department of Natural Resources for rapid response efforts.

The citizen-initiated Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act was led in response to unprecedented attacks on Michigan hunting rights and conservation efforts. Out-of-state groups launched two referendums seeking to overrule Michigan’s wildlife biologists regarding game designation decisions. Without the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, conservation decisions made by our state’s professional wildlife biologists would be subject to costly referendums.

The NRC was created in 1922 to ensure conservation decisions were not politically influenced. In 1996, the people of Michigan voted to give the NRC exclusive authority to issue game orders using sound science. Passage of the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act ensures that fish, wildlife and conservation decisions are made by our state’s professional wildlife biologists using scientific methods, not special interests.

Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to contact my office regarding the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, and please feel free to contact my office anytime.

Additional information regarding the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act:

• “Game” means any species of wildlife designated by the Legislature or the Natural Resources Commission as game.

• “Conservation” means the wise use of natural resources.

• The Legislature or bipartisan Natural Resources Commission may designate a wildlife species as game, but Natural Resources Commission orders must be consistent with its duty to use sound science.

• The bipartisan Natural Resources Commission may take testimony from DNR biologists and other experts, and review scientific literature and data to support its duty to use sound science.

• Only the Legislature or Natural Resources Commission may establish the first open season for game.

• Only the Legislature may remove wildlife from the game species list, but the Natural Resources Commission may decline to authorize a hunting season if it conflicts with sound science.

• Declare that the fish and wildlife populations and their habitats are important to the citizens of Michigan.

• Declare that the conservation of fish and wildlife populations depend upon the wise use and sound scientific management of natural resources.

• Allow active duty members of the military to obtain hunting, fishing and trapping licenses free of charge.

• Declare that aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp, represent a significant threat to the state’s fisheries, aquatic resources, outdoor recreation and tourism economies and public safety.

• The Natural Resources Commission has the exclusive authority to regulate fishing. It must use principles of sound science and may take testimony from DNR personnel, experts and others, and review scientific literature, data and other sources in support of its duty to use sound science.

• Appropriates $1 million to the DNR for rapid response, prevention, control and/or elimination of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp.

New Mentored Youth Hunting Laws and Regulations

In 2011, the Legislature passed a bill that removed the minimum hunting age from state law. Instead, a mentored youth hunting license is now available for the low price of $7.50.

The license is a package that allows the young hunter to hunt small game, turkey, deer as well as trap furbearers and fish for all species. In order to be eligible for this special license, the child must:

• Be 10 years or younger.

• Hunt with a mentor at least 21 years old who has previous hunting experience and possesses a current Michigan hunting license.

• Abide by a limit of two hunting devices per mentor in the field.

• Remain within an arm’s length of his/ her mentor at all times while handling a hunting device.

For more information or to purchase this special license for your child, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr

Michigan’s E-License system allows hunters and anglers to purchase licenses, applications and permits 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Visit www.mdnr-elicense.com today to:

• Buy most hunting licenses, special hunting applications and kill tags.

• Print some of the documents from your personal computer.

• Give the gift of Michigan’s outdoors — gift cards are available in denominations of $15, $30 and $50 and can be redeemed online for licenses for fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.

Keep in mind these licenses are only valid during legal hunting seasons. For a complete list of Michigan’s various hunting seasons, visit www.michigan.gov/hunting


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stacyerwinoakes@house.mi.gov

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Stacy Erwin Oakes

State Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes

95th House District

 
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