People out and about might encounter reps of "Michigan Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management" and the petition they're circulating. Their effort seeks to reinforce the politically-appointed Natural Resource Commission's ability to designate game species and issue fisheries orders. If successful, it will prevent people from voting on the designation of species as game. This includes the wolf and other species not already on the game species list. Examples of nongame animals include the sand hill crane and lynx.
In 2006 the majority of people in every county of Michigan, in a referendum vote, voted against mourning dove hunting. If the "citizens'" group succeeds, that type of effort will no longer be possible.
On the surface the "citizens'" campaign sounds good: "Protect hunting rights, protect fisheries from Asian carp, free hunting licenses for military." What they won't tell you is that already:
1. The federal budget includes an allocation of $225 million for Great Lakes issues.
2. Michigan's budget has $15 million allocated to combat invasive species including Asian carp.
3. Hunting licenses for military cost just $1.
What they're really trying to accomplish is taking away voters' right to referendum on wildlife issues.
The "citizens'" group has until May 20 to submit more than 250,000 valid signatures. With enough collected, the bill would head to the Legislature which would have 40 days to act. The legislature would have the potential to sign the bill into law without even the governor's signature. This would essentially render moot opponents' two ballot questions:
- Should the wolf be a game animal; and
- Should PA 21 of 2013 (which gave the politically-appointed Natural Resources Commission the authority to name game species) be enacted?
Should we give up our right to vote on wildlife issues and have them decided by political appointees? The NRC is not a panel of biologists, and they are not obligated to make science-based decisions. Not one of the current seven NRC members has a natural resources background. The only member who did voted, in 2013, against naming the wolf as a game animal and against the wolf hunt. That individual is no longer a member of the NRC.
It's time to contact our state senators and representatives. Tell them if presented with the petitions to vote no on the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act. It has nothing to do with science.