Although too late for 2014, on behalf of our organization I requested that the NRC not authorize a fall season under those conditions. A request was made that if a fall season was to be held it be moved from the middle of September to the middle of October.
Our newsletter, Michigan Turkey Tracks is published twice a year. Copies are sent to DNR commissioners, DNR managers, news media and others. I was sitting in the front row and had given a Turkey Track newsletter to each person beside me. Commissioner Louise Klarr passed by and made the remark, “You are not reading THAT are you? Whoever writes that hates the DNR.” I told her that I was the author of articles and the publisher of our newsletter and no we did not hate the DNR.
I could not believe that she said that. We have published 37 issues of Turkey Tracks. In each issue we deal with facts just as they are. Over the past 32 years we have had a great deal to do with the restoration of Wild Turkeys in Michigan and the ethical tradition of hunting them. Many of us who began hunting in the 1940’s have seen may of our game birds and animals reduced to a fraction of what we once found. Those thousands of hours and thousands of dollars spent by our all-volunteer organization was not for ourselves but of leaving natural resources as we experienced them for the generations to follow.
I grew up within walking distance to the Saginaw River and huge marsh of Saginaw Bay. I was fascinated when reading outdoors magazines of catching Lake Trout and of hunting Wild Turkeys. The Lamprey Eel, that had reached the Great Lakes from the ocean, had wiped out the Lake Trout. At that time Wild Turkeys were only found in the deep south and their future existence appeared in doubt. It was only in my wildest dreams that I would ever be able to fish for and catch a Lake Trout or actually see, let alone hunt, a Wild Turkey. My father was the last commercial fisherman in the inner bay. I watched as the fishery and wildlife collapsed because of a horribly polluted bay. I saw pheasant numbers greater than anything that I found while hunting them in South Dakota, then witnessed their numbers crash in Michigan.
DNR fisheries biologists found a way to eliminate most of the Lamprey Eels and were able to restore Lake Trout to the Great Lakes. I still marvel at each one that I catch. Sometime in the early sixties while our family of 5 was traveling a back road in Lake County, a Wild Turkey hen with about 6 poults crossed the road in front of us. I could not believe that I actually had seen Wild Turkeys. I decided then that my great grandchildren would have the same opportunity.
The successful restoration of Wild Turkey did not come about from some master plan created by DNR top management but rather by dedicated DNR field Wildlife Biologists. Eventually pollution controls of all types were established and enforced and our DNR fisheries biologists were able to restore the fantastic walleye fishery that we have today. One of my favorite pastimes is spent during the summer months on Lake Michigan trolling for salmon and trout. There is no other fishing experience greater than watching a huge Chinook Salmon peeling line off the reel. When it is in the net and in the cooler, I thank Dr. Howard Tanner, the father of our salmon fishery. Dr. Tanner was the DNR director who solved the alewife problem by bringing salmon to the Great Lakes.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to those dedicated DNR employees that went above and beyond to restore and create what we take for granted today. Quite a few years ago we established a Certificate Of Professional Excellence. We have so honored both DNR and U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologists, technicians and conservation officers who have shown true dedication to our Wild Turkeys and their habitat.
On the flip side we have seen DNR employees threatened with job loss when they publicly took a stand on issues to protect our natural resources. We have seen many times the ugly side of politics, personal politics and personal gain, among others enter into decisions about our natural resources of any kind.
The articles in Michigan Turkey Tracks are facts, written to inform and perhaps bring about needed change. If Ms. Klarr would take the time to read what is written in Michigan Turkey Tracks perhaps she could help to make meaningful change.
We truly appreciate and admire the many dedicated DNR employees. As for the rest we will let you decide.