March 18, 2019

Michigan Wildlife Council Sees Success with Public Education Campaign

By Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

The Michigan Wildlife Council launched a campaign in 2016 to educate the public about the important role of hunters and anglers, and has since achieved impressive milestones, including engaging Michigananders about wildlife management practices and conservation funding.

The Council was established by Michigan Public Act No. 246 of 2013, and formally organized in 2014. The nine-member public body is governor-appointed with the task of implementing and overseeing a public education campaign about the important role hunters and anglers play in keeping Michigan’s wildlife and natural resources healthy through the American System of Conservation Funding. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia serves on the Council.

The campaign formally launched in April 2016. Since then, the Council has reached some impressive milestones:   

Given that the target audience does not hunt or fish, it can be a challenge to present the message in a way that non-sportsmen and women understand. It requires consistent messaging over time to create an informed opinion on issues that otherwise may not be personally relevant. This campaign is described as a marathon and the council is into for the long haul. 

One of the Council’s most impressive achievements is increasing public knowledge and understanding of key measures. Comparing baseline data from 2015 to new statewide survey results from 2018, there has been a 45% statewide increase in the meaningfulness of statements about hunting and fishing licenses dollars from sportsmen paying for wildlife management and habitat preservation.

There has also been a 33% increase in the belief that wildlife management by humans is necessary statewide, and a 47% increase in those respondents who moderately approve of hunting. In the three counties that make up the southeast region: there has been a 70% increase in the understanding wildlife management by humans is necessary among residents of Macomb County, 41% increase in Oakland County and 38% increase in understanding among residents of Wayne County.

In a time when the sale of hunting and fishing licenses is on the decline, it is encouraging to know that there is growth in the general public’s understanding of the importance of wildlife management and where that funding comes from. 

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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