Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
Why it Matters: The Michigan Wildlife Council is one of only two wildlife councils in the country. Their mission is to educate the public on the important role hunters and anglers play in managing sustainable wildlife populations, providing the bulk of funding for conservation efforts in the state for both game and non-game species, and preserving a valued part of Michigan’s heritage. In 2020 alone, Michigan hunters and anglers contributed more than $90 million to conservation efforts through the American System of Conservation Funding. Furthermore, Michigan’s outdoor sporting community has created over 171,000 jobs and provides an additional $11.2 billion to the state’s economy annually. Altering the Councils makeup and mission would result in hunters and anglers funding a campaign that does not see value in their pursuits.
Michigan House Bill 5078 was recently introduced, proposing a change in the makeup and mission of the Michigan Wildlife Council (MWC). Created in 2013 by legislation sponsored by then Caucus Co-chair Sen. Jon Bumstead, the MWC’s mission is to oversee a public education campaign focused on the benefits of hunting and fishing and their essential roles in support of conservation. The council focuses their efforts on highlighting the importance of managing wildlife populations, explaining the American System of Conservation Funding, highlighting that these activities serve as important drivers of Michigan’s economy and a valued part of the state’s cultural heritage. The Council receives $1.00 from every base hunting and fishing licenses sold to fund its mission.
Currently the council is made up of 9 members, which includes: a representative from the MI Department of Natural Resources, four individuals who have purchased a hunting or fishing license on a regular basis, one representative from the outdoor business community, one representative from the agricultural community, one individual with media/marketing experience, and one individual from a rural area whose economy is impacted by hunting and fishing.
HB 5078 would add four new positions to the council: two members representing non-consumptive users, a representative from a tribal government, and an individual with a master’s degree in a relevant science field and 6 years of experience.
CSF has met with legislators to express our concerns with the legislation as written. Because the council is funded 100% by sportsmen and women – a provision that HB 5078 would not change – we believe that hunters and anglers should be the ones represented on the council. As written, this legislation could lead to an ineffective campaign and council who does not see the value in our pursuits. Sportsmen and women should not be forced to fund a campaign that does not value the important role they play in conservation. The bill is not expected to move, but it serves as an example for the need to educate the public on the important role hunters and anglers play in conservation.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?