from the current $15 to $33.08 in 2013. A senior license will increase from the current $6.00 to $19.75 in 2013. A resident combo deer license will raise from the current $30.00 to $86.29.
For a number of years MWTHA has been in partnership with the Michigan Conservation Foundation by monitoring and attending various DNR compartment reviews throughout state forests in the northern lower peninsula. With a rare exception we have found that even minimum habitat requirements are not being maintained for those game birds and animals, which explains the decline of these species. We feel that it is the DNR forest management who should be responsible for creating this habitat and the responsibility of they and DNR wildlife to maintain necessary habitat. Why then should those hunters who pursue their sport on state forests have to pay more – to get more of the same? Over the years we have met with various DNR managers in an attempt to provide the funds, personnel and initiative to provide required habitat on our state forests, all in vain. DNR foresters do not believe that it is their job to worry about wildlife habitat, only to grow a tree – cut a tree.
For a number of years we have watched our restricted Turkey Fund being used for very questionable uses by the DNR other than actual turkey management. Our objections have been ignored. The Turkey Fund generates somewhere about $1,500,000 each year. When various DNR biologists are asked why certain types of habitat are not being maintained they cite a lack of equipment and money. WHY?
The Deer Range Improvement Fund was initiated in 1970. $1.50 of each deer hunting license sold would be used to purchase and maintain important deer wintering yards and to improve deer habitat. 37 years later what do you suppose that $1.50 buys today? Several years ago the restricted portion of the turkey license was capped at $9.50 to $1.00 depending on the type of license purchased. $3.50 collected from each waterfowl license shall be used to acquire wetlands and other lands to be managed for the benefit of waterfowl.
DNR Management do not like restricted license money, preferring to be free to spend that money any way that they choose. It appears that those restricted funds appear to be the only money that actually has a chance of getting on the ground. Several years ago MWTHA directors decided that we would lobby against any hunting license increase unless the restricted funds are left intact but also be increased by the same percentage that those particular hunting licenses increase. Perhaps then we can see habitat requirements over the various forest compartments completed.
The DNR assembled a Hunting and Fishing License Package Work Group to study and recommend various licensing changes and fees. We were excluded from that group. In all of their deliberations they did not once consider existing restricted funds, either hunting or fishing.
From our members polled it is realized that the cost of living keeps rising and so do DNR expenses. We support an increase fee for hunting licenses but only if we are able to address those shortcomings as listed above.
We have a begun to lobby the legislature. We have testified at two House of Representatives subcommittee meetings and have sent letters to key representatives. We are asking that H.B. 4624 be amended to include the increase of those restricted funds. We are also suggesting that the bill includes language that the DNR be accountable back to the legislature to insure that those restricted funds be used for their lawful, intended purpose.
By the time this is published in Turkey Tracks the bill may have passed. We hope that our efforts have not been in vain.