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.
Michigan Farm Bureau will work with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and other stakeholders to achieve disease management goals, ecological balance, and strategies to establish and not exceed carrying capacity of the land. The MDNR should increase habitat management on public lands, helping both the hunting and farming communities.
We urge the MDNR 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 resulting in better resource management with increased transparency.
Hunting and Trapping
- Hunting and trapping being protected as the primary tools for wildlife management.
- Competitive license fees to encourage resident and nonresident hunting and fishing opportunities.
- The MDNR reviewing management units for all wildlife and considering reconfigurations based on biogeographic areas.
- The MDNR simplifying, revising, and extending or creating hunting seasons to provide the most flexibility to hunters to improve success and effectively manage populations.
- Programs and methods to help control problem species, including earn-a-buck and other doe management techniques.
- Allowing the sale of wild game meat.
- Other financial incentives to harvest more problem species.
- The MFB Wildlife Action Team report which encourages:
- Farmer participation at Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meetings.
- Managing wildlife populations with a regional quota-based system to support a balanced wildlife population based on the carrying capacity of each region of the state. When quotas are not achieved, additional hunting seasons should be made available or existing seasons extended.
- Agency culling/harvest to reduce overpopulation.
- 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.
- Encourage the MDNR to set up a hunting season for sandhill cranes.
Endangered Species and Depredation
- The MDNR being the lead agency to advocate Michigan’s authority to manage federally protected species.
- The American Farm Bureau Federation supporting increasing states’ rights to manage federally protected species.
- Standardized procedures for reporting, investigating and indemnifying 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.
- Encouraging 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.
- Amending the Endangered Species Act to allow lethal control to be used when protecting livestock from wolves.
- MFB should support efforts to de-list wolves in Michigan, including supporting legal efforts with amicus and financial resources.
Population Health and Disease Management
- Basing the decision to allow baiting and feeding on veterinary/animal health science.
- Artificial baiting.
- Considering strengthening fines and penalties for illegal feeding of wildlife, similar to those for poaching.
- Making wildlife control permits low-cost or free and easily accessible based on damage, and allowing landowners to use the appropriate firearm for the land’s zone, regardless of the hunting season. Controlling species, regardless of sex, on farmland is necessary to produce a viable product.
- Increased use of technology, including QR codes, electronic data reporting and unbiased surveys, along with voluntary check stations for wildlife to provide better population data and control wildlife disease in Michigan. Reporting options should be accessible by mail, online, or by phone within 30 days of harvest. In cases of diseased animals, replacement tags should be issued.
- Legislation requiring the MDNR to publish an annual report on county or regional analysis of whitetail deer herd populations. This report should include the risk of herds contracting diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Bovine Tuberculosis (TB), and recommendations for proactive herd management to reduce risks of contracting such diseases.
- MFB providing resources to help farmers address wildlife conflict.
- The MDNR strictly enforcing disease control laws and regulations.
- MFB assisting members reporting lax and inconsistent enforcement activities with communications with the NRC, legislators, and administration officials.
- Legislative oversight and audits of MDNR enforcement consistency.
- Legislation that allows an individual to transport and possess a loaded firearm in or on any vehicle while on private land with the permission of the landowner.
- Feeding free-ranging deer.
- Hunting regulations with adverse effects on agriculture, including mandatory antler point restrictions.
- Translocating untested terrestrial wildlife species with known infected populations from one area of the state to the other, which could increase the risk of spreading infectious and contagious diseases such as CWD and TB.