Daily Briefs

Schuette proposes legal changes to enhance hunting rights

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday announced that he will be working with the legislature to continue to protect Michigan’s hunting and fishing heritage through a series of legal changes that will enhance the outdoor experience and make Michigan more attractive as a hunting destination.

Currently, not all Michigan laws and regulations match up with the intended goal of promoting these cherished recreational activities.

The following are Schuette’s recommendations to the legislature and state agencies to enhance and protect hunting and property rights:

Schuette is proposing:

• The legislature pass a resolution in support of Michiganian’s hunting and fishing rights.

• Removing the prohibition on transporting an uncased hunting weapon in a vehicle on private property. The change would not alter the current ban on using or possessing a loaded or strung hunting weapon in a vehicle.

• The Department of Natural Resources currently permits hunting of waterfowl from a motorboat if “the motor has been completely shut off… and its progress therefrom has ceased.” But MCL 324.40111 prohibits having a loaded weapon in a motorized boat, which would prevent such lawful hunting. Schuette wants the statute made consistent with the DNR conservation order.

• Michigan’s turkey licensing program was set when wild turkeys were endangered, to keep the population in check and prevent animals from starving during winter months. The population of wild turkeys in Michigan has since rebounded, and each year, tens of thousands of licenses are left over from the lotteries for the spring and fall hunts. Schuette argues turkey hunters who spontaneously want to go out for the weekend should be able to buy a license outside of the lottery application process.

• Verbal permission is hard to enforce and can create conflict between hunters, fishers, trappers and property owners. Many property owners complain the current penalties are not a deterrent and are ignored. Currently, hunting or fishing on private land without permission is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a fine of $100-500; subsequent fines are $250-1000 and loss of license.
Fifteen other states, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, require written permission to hunt or fish on private land. Schuette is proposing requiring written permission and increasing fines and including a pre-written form in the hunting guide that is sent with the hunting or fishing license and is provided at public offices.

Michigan’s hunting and fishing economy is a major contributor to the state’s overall economy, with the Department of Natural Resources selling about 600,000 hunters approximately 630,000 licenses of all types.

Michigan’s hunter participation ranks third in the nation — 795,535 licensed hunters in 2011 — contributing nearly $28 million in federal funds to wildlife management and wildlife habitat restoration. Michigan hunters boost the state’s economy, spending $2.3 billion on trip-related expenses and equipment in 2011. Wildlife-watching activities bring in $1.2 billion in trip-related expenses and equipment annually.
Michigan’s angler participation rated fifth in the nation — 1.1 million licensed anglers in 2011 - drawing over $11.2 million in federal funds to fish and aquatic habitat conservation. Anglers boost the state’s economy, spending $2.4 billion in trip-related expenses and equipment in 2011.