Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 26, 2013

Forum: Wildlife deserves sound scientific management

The Record-Eagle’s April 16 editorial about the Scientific Wildlife Management package demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how game species are managed in Michigan. Rather than “taking aim at Michigan voters,” SB 288 and its House counterpart — HB 4552 — are the only way to ensure that game management decisions are made using sound science — as mandated by the voters almost 17 years ago.

These bills share the Legislature’s current authority to designate a game species with the Natural Resources Commission. Michigan citizens voted overwhelmingly in 1996’s Proposal G to mandate the Natural Resources Commission to use sound science in its game management decisions.

The Record-Eagle’s editorial said “the Legislature should have no role in that decision,” regarding a potential wolf hunt, but this bill would not give them a role. Proposal G gave exclusive authority to the NRC to make game management decisions — like whether or not to have a hunt — using that sound science mandate. These bills allow the NRC to use its sound science mandate on game designation as well as management.

Very simply, either wildlife management will be based on science or it won’t. Either decisions will be made based on the recommendations of biologists, or they’ll be made based on 30-second ads. This bill ensures that decisions about whether to hunt a species — from designation as a game species to whether a hunting season will be created and what regulations will be in place — are made using the sound science mandate that only the Natural Resources Commission has, just as Michigan voters intended with 1996’s Proposal G.

And far from being “phony-baloney,” the appropriation contained in the legislation is for research and management of fish and game species — the research necessary for the Department of Natural Resources to make scientific recommendations to the NRC.

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