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Karl Guenther Column: Make a law that makes sense when it comes to scientific management of wildlife


We are now looking at something hunters, fisher-people (ridiculous, isn’t it?!), farmers and others intimate with wildlife have been encouraging for a long time.  We’ve been pushing for a means by which we can retain our right to hunt and trap as a means to manage wildlife, while not giving up a variety of tools to reduce wildlife damage of all types.  Some of you may know what happened to my grove of fraser fir trees.  If you don’t, and want to, e-mail or snail mail me and i’ll fill you in.

Anyway, back to the point.  Fairly new in the State Senate (April 11) the Senate Natural Resources Committee passed a pair of bills specifically to affirm the scientific management of wildlife.  Some of the elements of that legislation are not fully comprehensible to me - - for example, it would allow the NRC to regulate the taking of fish, as they regulate the taking of game.  I’ve not been fishing more than a dozen times in the last 75 years, but I grew up with the understanding that you don’t catch fish at certain times of the year (seasonal); you don’t keep a fish if it hasn’t achieved a specified size, and there’s a limit on how many you can catch and keep (limit).  So, why those restrictions are now to be part of the NRC responsibility is an unknown.  Of course, the legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba was written to; because it is intended to, serve more than one or two groups of people.

My little grove of Christmas trees is not a make or break situation for me; and it certainly has no impact on the Michigan economy.  But, just to stick with the deer situation for a moment - it was the deer that destroyed my trees, but that is nothing - - literally NOTHING to what they do when they “yard up” in a field of grain, flattening the crop beyond recovery, at significant cost to the farmer - - and it happens year, after year.

It is interesting to me to note, in the Michigan Farm Bureau message, authored by Rebecca Park, legislative counsel, that the legislation would include the right to hunt and fish in state statute.  Imagine that!  I take that to mean we do not yet have the legal (statutory) right to hunt or fish in Michigan.  It must, therefore, be a privilege, governed by the Department of Natural Resources.  Here’s a chance to make law that makes sense.  Let’s follow the urging in that letter, and contact our Senators, whoever and wherever they are, and encourage them to support the Casperson proposals.  The timeline is fairly short.  Friday, April 19th - - get your two cents worth in.  Actually, it could be worth a lot more than that!

Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached at khguenther@att.net. He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.