History of the MWTHA

2/86: Plans underway for Festival ’86 (5th annual). Winter assistance program in effect and has been very successful. Adopt-A-Turkey program was carried in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon newspapers.

2/86: Met with DNR District 8 biologist, Tom Prawdzik of Clare. Talked for two hours on local problems and how better to manage our Wild Turkeys. He has asked for 200 new birds for Mecosta, Osceola & Isabella counties. We have very few disagreements.

3/3/86: Met with DNR Region 6 biologist, Tom Havard at Cadillac. Explained our position on permits, seasons, etc. We agreed to work out a management plan for Area K to see if we can increase turkey numbers. He has asked for 200 turkeys for release in Area K. While there, Gary Bouchelle, Region II biologist, came in and I had an opportunity to talk turkey management with him.

3/3/86: Called Jack Bails, DNR deputy director. DNR turkey coordinator, John Urbain has drawn up a draft of a turkey management plan. Advised Bails that before it is finalized we expect an input into the final draft. Also talked of U.P. problem and answered his questions on several issues. He is aware that we are alive and well.

3/6/86: Traveled the state capitol with Art Cocklin and Tom Tighe to attend the signing ceremony with Governor Blanchard of our bill which is now Act 15 of 1986. Representative Sid Owinga was present (he had introduced the bill for us). Many photos were taken. The Wild Turkey is now big game and the penalties for poaching one have been increased. Contacted Senator Engler’s office and pushed the restitution bill. Also talked of the $3.00 application fee for applying for a turkey permit is not earmarked for the lottery. We are lobbying H.B. 4047 (penalties increases). It appears that we are the only organization to take an interest.

3/7/86: Called Herb Bums, DNR law chief. Talked to him about getting some positive publicity on our bill and other poaching bills. Hopefully, he will take some action.

6/86: Contrary to good management practices and despite the efforts of Hugh Marx, the Natural Resources Commission has approved a U.P. fall hunt. Politics still plays a big part of wildlife management. (Note: At the time local biologists requested Wild Turkeys for stocking in large areas void of them but were refused them. Wildlife Unlimited in the U.P. counties of Menominee & Dickenson could only support so many turkeys during the winter and want the surplus removed during the fall. We wanted those turkeys for stocking.) I consulted with an attorney who advised that he thought that an order could be obtained from the court to stop the U.P. hunt. He was prepared to file an injunction on our say so. We traveled to Lansing and cut a deal with the Wildlife Division for 500 turkeys to be trapped and transferred to the northern Lower Peninsula for stocking. If they renege we pursue a court order next year.

5/9/86: Sent a letter to Senator Kirby Holmes, chairman of the senate conservation committee. A bill was passed in the House that determined that there would be $1,000 restitution for each deer, bear or Wild Turkey taken illegally. It was languishing in committee in the Senate and was about to die because no action was going to be taken on it there. I went in front of the full Senate and lobbied it out of committee before the full senate. Here was the most important anti-poaching bill in the last 60 years, and not another organization shows the least concern! Where is MUCC? I asked Holmes to hear the bill in committee as summer recess was around the corner. Advised him of the need for passage before fall. Followed up with phone calls to other committee members. It was suddenly scheduled, passed through the committee, and went to the full senate for a vote. A letter was sent to Senator Engler (senate majority leader) asking for his support for immediate passage. It was passed on 6/12/86 and waits for Governor’s signature. H.B. 4482 was initiated as a result of the overwhelming support in the legislature for our turkey bill and its subsequent passage. Michigan now has the most severe penalties in the country. Just watch our turkey numbers grow. Score one more for the chapter.

6/23/86: Traveled to Lansing for a meeting with DNR deputy director, Jack Bails, wildlife division chief Ed Mikula and turkey specialist John Urbain. Present were Hugh Marx, Craig Liddicoat, and Tom Tighe. We were there to discuss a written Wild Turkey management plan. It was a lively meeting. Many important issues are at stake. I get the uneasy feeling that they may eventually want to abandon most of the north country in favor of southern Michigan. There are many flaws in their proposed plan and hopefully, we can have a written management plan that we understand and stand shoulder-to-shoulder together, all headed in the same direction.