June 14, 2021

Michigan Legislation Would Preserve the Fair Chase Ethic

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager


Why it Matters: The Fair Chase Doctrine states that sportsmen and women will act in an ethical and sportsmen-like manner while pursing game and should not have an unfair advantage over the game. House bill 4050 would protect information related to the specific locations of game animals gathered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during the course of their duties, thus protecting game animals from public information requests by individuals seeking an unfair advantage. This bill also helps protect the integrity of any ongoing scientific studies being conducted by the DNR from individuals who would purposely pursue game because they know a study is being conducted in that location.     

House Bill 4050 (HB 4050), introduced by Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative John Cherry earlier this year, has made its way to the governor’s desk. This bill will exempt the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from being required to disclose information related to the exact location of game animals obtained through the course of their work from public information requests. Specifically, the bill states that the DNR would be exempt from sharing “records or information that would reveal the specific location or GPS coordinates of game, including, but not limited to, records or information of the specific location or GPS coordinates of game obtained by the department of natural resources during any restoration, management, or research project.”

HB 4050 was introduced in an effort to uphold the Fair Chase Doctrine and to protect the scientific integrity of ongoing wildlife studies. The Fair Chase Doctrine states that hunters will act in an ethical, sportsman-like, and lawful manner while in pursuit of any free-ranging wild game animal. Hunters acting in this manner should not have an improper or unfair advantage over the game animals they are pursuing. There have been instances in the state where individuals had requested location data for game animals from the DNR as an effort to gain an advantage when pursuing those species. While the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation believes that individuals have a right to obtain information from government entities, that information should not be used to give an individual an unfair and unethical advantage while pursuing game.

After passing with strong bipartisan support in both chambers, HB 4050 currently awaits executive approval on the governor’s desk. Read more information about the Fair Chase Ethic here.

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?

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