Why It Matters: Conservation efforts are threatened when anti-hunters hold seats on game commissions, and it is important that qualification requirements for such commissioners bar these anti-hunters from receiving an opportunity to undermine our time-honored outdoor traditions. Experienced hunters and anglers, or those who at the very least recognize and appreciate the important role of sportsmen and sportswomen, should be making the key decisions that impact a state’s sporting community.
- Recently introduced Michigan House Bill 6387 would require that appointees to the Michigan Natural Resource Commission (NRC) must have owned a hunting or fishing license in four of the preceding six years.
- Although such a commission has existed in Michigan since 1921, and has held the authority to regulate the taking of fish and game in the state since that time, it was not until the passage of a 1996 ballot proposal that this authority became exclusive to the NRC.
- Requiring NRC appointees to have proven track records of personally supporting hunting or fishing among their other qualifications would help to ensure that the important decisions relating to the taking of fish and wildlife in the state are made by those who understand the conservation role of sportsmen and sportswomen.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to support this bill and others like it that strengthen the voice that sportsmen and women have in the decision-making bodies that impact hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping.
While experienced sportsmen and women are typically pictured with a firearm, a bow, or a fishing rod, a new Michigan bill would guarantee that a few would also wield important fish and wildlife decision-making authority. Michigan HB 6387 would require that appointees to the Michigan NRC must have possessed a hunting or fishing license in at least four of the preceding six years. Such a requirement would ensure that the NRC is comprised of proven hunters and anglers that have the knowledge and experience necessary to understand the impacts that their decisions hold. In 1996, Michiganders voted to pass Proposal G, which gave the NRC the exclusive authority to regulate the taking of fish and game in the state. Given this exclusive authority, the importance that commissioners properly represent the interests of sportsmen and women is cannot be understated.
Recently, in other states, anti-hunters have pushed for seats on state game commissions, which is an obvious obstruction to the interests of sportsmen and women who remain the original conservationists and primary funders of conservation efforts. Michigan, HB 6387 would ensure that those who would seek appointment to the NRC to undermine the time-honored traditions enjoyed by the more than 1.9 million hunters and anglers in the state are not granted the authority to do so. Heightening the requirements of these governor-appointed and senate-confirmed commissioners to include recent and continued possession of hunting or fishing licenses is an excellent way to keep anti-hunters away from hunting and fishing decisions.
In 2021 alone, three states, Missouri, Nebraska, and Vermont, all saw legislation introduced that would have altered the composition or nomination process of state game commissions. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to support bills like HB 6387 that strengthen these commissions and oppose those that undermine their intended purpose to conserve and protect wildlife through science-based management practices.