Around the States: Michigan, MAFWA, Oregon, Pennsylvania

Michigan: Continuing the troubling national trend from anti-hunting groups, legislators in Michigan filed bills last week that would seek to “reform” state-based wildlife management through changes to the current structure of the Wolf Management Advisory Council and the state’s Wildlife Council. 

Michigan House Bill 4855 and Michigan House Bill 4856 each seek to add three new members to the Wolf Management Advisory Council and the State Wildlife Council, respectively. Two of the proposed new members would represent “a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes the conservation and enhancement of this state’s wildlife and habitat, recognizes and promotes primarily nonconsumptive wildlife use, and has expertise in wildlife issues, wildlife habitat, or wildlife management” as well as an additional member “with a master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in zoology, wildlife management, or a related discipline of science and the equivalent of 6 years of full-time relevant experience.” House Bill 4856 would also add a provision to educate the public on the “importance of balancing, through the protection of certain species, the needs of animals that have been adversely affected by human activity.” Importantly, the Michigan Wildlife Council was created to educate about the importance of wildlife conservation and the role of hunters and anglers in preserving Michigan’s great outdoor heritage for future generations. 

These bills are nothing more than a copy and paste frontal assault on the successful and proven management of our natural resources from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and statutorily defined stakeholder groups. As seen in Washington and other states, these attempts to reform wildlife managementthrough overemphasizing nonconsumptive use is patently anti-hunting and simply a foot-in-the-door approach to further “reform” efforts. SCI and the SCI chapters within Michigan strongly oppose these bills and will continue to push back these anti-hunting measures.

Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) Director’s Meeting:  Wildlife directors and professionals from all across the Midwest gathered in Green Bay, Wisconsin at the conference rooms in Lambeau Field during the week of June 26th for the annual 89th MAFWA Director’s Meeting, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Safari Club International (SCI) was in attendance to represent its membership and engage on conservation and hunting issues.  SCI State and Local Liaisons Bee Frederick and Chris Tymeson attended, meeting with wildlife regulators and other non-governmental organizations on topics of importance to SCI and its chapters and members.  The jam-packed meeting included presentations, reports and related gatherings covering these topics: collaboration in the Green Bay ecosystem, updates from federal partners, bats and pollinators as federally listed species, Wisconsin’s R3 efforts, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies update, illegal trade of aquatic species, customer engagement and relevancy and reports from the MAFWA committees such as the deer and wild turkey group, feral swine group and ad hoc CWD group.  SCI continues to lead from the front and is always first for hunters.  Pictured L-R next to Paul Hornung’s Heisman Trophy in Lambeau Field:  Sara Parker Pauley, Director, Missouri Department of Conservation, Amanda Wuestefeld, Fish and Wildlife Division Director, Indiana DNR, Bee Frederick, SCI Eastern State and Local Liaison, Kendra Wecker, Wildlife Division Chief, Ohio DNR, Chris Tymeson, SCI Western State and Local Liaison and Shannon Lott, Acting Director, Michigan DNR.

Oregon:  The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3086, regarding the makeup of the Oregon Department of Fish and Game Commission, in the final days of the legislative session and the bill will be effective on January 1, 2024.  The current statute requires the Commission districts to be aligned with the Congressional Districts of Oregon and because Oregon gained a seat in the House of Representatives, the statute needed to be modified.  SCI, along with a coalition of other conservation and hunting and fishing organizations, supported a change in the Commission makeup to align more with river basins rather than a strictly human population base model.  After a long and arduous fight in which SCI submitted written testimony and issued several action alerts, the Legislature finally agreed with the coalition position.

Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 344, which would allow nonresident college students in the Keystone State to purchase hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices, unanimously passed the Senate on June 27. SCI previously submitted a letter of support for this bill which now heads to the House for further consideration.