May 1, 2023

Michigan Set for Another Run at Commercial Guiding Legislation

Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why It Matters: Oftentimes, achieving desired legislative outcomes requires dedicated persistence. This is especially true for a Michigan initiative that would create a licensing and reporting framework for commercial hunting and fishing guides in the state, which has been introduced in the legislature multiple times over the last few years.


  • A package of three bills, including a bill sponsored by Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator John Cherry, was introduced in March 2023.The package would create the regulatory framework needed to ensure the quality of commercial guiding in the state.
  • This legislation would increase revenue realized by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and require guides to report on their catches or harvests, which will provide the DNR with valuable information on fish and wildlife species in the state.
  • In recent years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has offered testimony supporting the legislation and will continue to do so this legislative session.

Guiding services are an important component of the hunting and angling industries, as guides are typically experts in pursuing fish or game species in certain geographic areas. Their expertise greatly increases the likelihood of an enjoyable and successful hunting or fishing trip for the client. However, aside from fishing operations on the Great Lakes, there are currently no regulations surrounding the commercial guiding industry in Michigan. Senate Bills 103, 104, and 105 would collectively create minimum standards for practitioners interested in providing commercial guiding services, create a licensing system, and require detailed reporting to the Michigan DNR.

The guiding package would also require a $150 fee associated with the three-year guiding licenses, which would provide additional support for the Michigan DNR through the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding. Capturing this increased revenue, along with the critical data that would be gleaned from the bills’ monthly reporting requirements, would allow the DNR to better carry out its mission of managing the State’s public trust fish and wildlife resources. Additionally, according to recent in-state estimates, released by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), hunting and fishing in Michigan generates more than $11.2 billion annually from gear purchases, lodging, dining, and more – all while simultaneously supporting more than 171,000 jobs. While the data does not provide additional detail on the number of hunters and anglers who rely on guiding services, CSF and partners maintain that the imposition of standards that would improve the experience delivered by guides will strengthen the state’s hunting and fishing industry, thereby increasing the positive impact that our time-honored traditions have on Michigan’s economy.

CSF will continue to work with partners like MUCC to support legislation like these bills which enhances funding opportunities for the Michigan DNR, improves the data available to the DNR so it may carry out its mission of conserving Michigan’s storied fish and wildlife populations, and improves the quality of hunting and fishing experiences offered by guides in the Great Lakes State.

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