Wildlife is an important part of Michigan’s outdoor heritage and economy. Sound biological science must be used to manage all wildlife populations to maintain proper balance in numbers, reduce damage to property, and control, monitor and test for disease transmission. We believe hunting and trapping should be protected as the primary tools for wildlife management.
We support competitive license fees to encourage resident and nonresident hunting and fishing opportunities. We encourage the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to review management units for all wildlife and consider reconfigurations based on biogeographic areas. Michigan Farm Bureau will work with the DNR and other stakeholders to achieve ecological balance, as well as establish and not exceed carrying capacity of the land. The DNR should increase habitat management on public lands, helping both the hunting and farming communities.
The DNR shall revise, and extend or create hunting seasons to provide the most flexibility to hunters to improve success and effectively manage populations. Further, the DNR should be the lead agency to advocate Michigan’s authority to manage federally protected species. We urge the American Farm Bureau Federation to take a proactive stance on increasing states’ rights to manage federally protected species.
We support standardized procedures for reporting, investigating and indemnification of depredation at fair market value. A notarized statement of loss should be enough proof for reimbursement when there is no evidence beyond an animal of appropriate size missing.
The decision to allow baiting and feeding should be based on veterinary/animal health science. MFB opposes artificial baiting and feeding of free-ranging deer. Strengthening fines and penalties for illegal feeding and baiting of wildlife, similar to those for poaching, should be considered.
Wildlife control permits should be low-cost or free and easily accessible based on seasonal damage and allow the landowner, regardless of the hunting season, to use the appropriate firearm for the land’s zone. Controlling species on farmland is necessary to produce a viable product. MFB encourages farmers to consider alternative methods for controlling loss, which may include lease options. If control methods are ineffective, farmers should have the authority to manage nuisance/destructive species on their land, including utilizing services from programs such as USDA Wildlife Services.
Increased use of technology, including QR codes, electronic data reporting and unbiased surveys, along with voluntary check stations for wildlife need to be explored. This could be utilized to help provide better population data, control disease and management of wildlife in Michigan. In cases of diseased animals, replacement tags should be issued.
We support programs and methods that help control problem species, including the concept of earn-a-buck or other doe management techniques. However, we oppose concepts that will have adverse effects on agriculture, including the use of mandatory antler point restrictions.
We urge the DNR to finalize its plan for citizen advisory councils in the Lower Peninsula. Two citizens advisory councils have been created in the Upper Peninsula. These advisory councils have provided an excellent forum for interaction between stakeholders and individual citizens. The end result has allowed for better resource management with increased transparency.
We support the report of the MFB Wildlife Action Team which encourages farmer participation at Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meetings.
In an effort to have a balanced wildlife population based on the carrying capacity of each region of the state, the Wildlife Action Team supports managing wildlife populations on a regional quota-based system. When quotas are not achieved, additional hunting seasons should be made available or existing seasons extended. If needed, consideration should be given to an agency culling/harvest.
We support the Michigan Wildlife Management Education Fund which is financed by a fee on hunting and fishing licenses and used to educate the public on natural resource issues.
We encourage the DNR to publish a report every 3-5 years on county or regional analysis of whitetail deer herd populations. This report would include the risk of those herds for contracting diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Bovine Tuberculosis (TB), and other diseases. Such report should include recommendations regarding proactive herd management that would reduce risks of contracting such diseases.
To prevent the spread of infectious and contagious diseases such as CWD and TB, we oppose the translocation of untested terrestrial wildlife species, with known infected populations, from one area of the state to another. The DNR must strictly enforce disease control laws and regulations put in place. MFB should assist members reporting lax and inconsistent enforcement activities with communications with the NRC, legislators, and administration officials. MFB supports legislative oversight and audits of DNR enforcement consistency.