SCIENTIFIC FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ACT UPHELD
Lawsuit by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Summarily Dismissed
Lansing—The Michigan Court of Claims today dismissed a lawsuit by anti-hunting groups challenging the constitutionality of the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. In a strongly-worded opinion by the Honorable Mark T. Boonstra, the Court ruled in favor of the State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Commission and summarily dismissed the challenge to the law from Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, which was heavily financed and run by the Humane Society of the United States.
“The Attorney General’s office did an excellent job of defending this law on its constitutional merits,” said Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). “The Court recognized that the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act was about just what its title says, managing fish, wildlife and their habitats with sound science.”
The Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (SFWCA) was enacted as a citizen initiative by the Michigan Legislature in August of 2014 under a constitutional provision that allows citizens to propose laws to their elected representatives. The initiative, led by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management coalition, contained provisions designed to manage fish, wildlife and habitat with sound science, including authorizing the Natural Resources Commission to designate game species (including wolves) and issue fisheries orders while requiring it to use sound science, discounting hunting and fishing licenses for active military members (hunting and fishing licenses pay for fish and wildlife management), and appropriating $1 million to manage and prevent aquatic invasive species.
The Court ruled that “the general purpose or aim, of the SFWCA is to manage fish, wildlife and their habitats,” and that, “provisions in the SFWCA relate to this object,” contrary to Keep Michigan Wolves Protected’s claim that they were unrelated to each other. Therefore, it ruled that Keep Michigan Wolves Protected “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” and dismissed the challenge.
“We still have some work to do on the federal level to restore scientific state management of wolves, but this was a tremendous effort by the conservation community of Michigan to ensure a transparent and scientific process for fish and wildlife management in our state,” said Dan Eichinger, executive director for MUCC.
Volunteers, DNR Grants Help Improve Wildlife Habitat
With schedules full and vacations planned, summer is around the corner, but many still are finding a few hours to work together to make a difference for wildlife and those who enjoy it.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, a group gathered in the Upper Peninsula, in south Marquette County, to improve wildlife habitat. A Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Grant enabled Michigan United Conservation Clubs to provide assistance and coordination for the event.
“Thanks to the many volunteers, and those that did all the legwork ahead of time,” said MUCC Vice President George Lindquist. “Nice job to all, and on a holiday weekend, no less.”
On public land near Arnold, Michigan, 18 volunteers from U.P. Whitetails and MUCC planted 140 oak trees – not just oak seedlings, but 10-foot red and burr oak trees to ensure better survival and a faster timeline for acorn production. In just two hours, this group was able to provide additional, valuable food sources for the future, in an area where countless wildlife will benefit.
Below the bridge in Cheboygan County, volunteers worked on public land at the LeeGrande GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Sites). The Ruffed Grouse Society and the American Woodcock Society also received a DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant to purchase and plant trees for projects like this. Additional partners from the Flint Chapter of Safari Club International and the Natural Resources Conservation Service district office in Alpena also assisted on this project.
Thirty crabapple trees were planted, with protective fencing placed around them to allow the trees to establish without being browsed by wildlife. Hard mast, like acorns or nuts, is a great food source, although soft mast like crabapples can retain their fruit longer and, in some cases, through the winter on the stem. Keeping the fruits available for wildlife in northern Michigan, when the snow gets deep, is something that benefits ruffed grouse and wild turkeys.
Current Wildlife Habitat Grant cycle: Apply by July 10
The application period currently is open for the Wildlife Habitat Grant program’s third straight year. The grant program provides funding to local, state, federal and tribal units of government, for-profit and nonprofit groups, and individuals to assist the DNR Wildlife Division with developing or improving wildlife habitat for game species. Proposal applications still can be submitted, but are due by close of business July 10.
Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants for more information.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.