Added to the original language of the act that established the restricted Turkey Fund was CREATION AND MANAGEMENT OF WILD TURKEY HABITAT ON STATE LAND, ANNUAL WILD TURKEY POPULATION SURVEYS, ANNUAL RANDOM DISEASE TESTING ACROSS THE WILD TURKEY RANGE IN THIS STATE. Under section 4 the language read THE DEPARTMENT SHALL TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE USE THE MONEY FROM SUBSECTION 3 ACROSS ALL STATE LAAND ON A PER ACRE BASIS. THE DEPARTMENT, PRIOR TO JANUARY 1 OF EACH YEAR PROVIDE THE STANDING COMMITTEES IN THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THAT PRIMARILY CONCERN ISSUES RELATING TO NATURAL RESOURCES A REPORT DETAILING THE EXPENDITURES FOR THE PRIOR YEAR UNDER SECTION (3).

The DNR was opposed to the bill as expected. When the bill was heard in a Senate committee opposition was raised by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The committee asked if the two side could come with a compromise. A lengthy conversation was held with Tony Snyder, NWTF state chapter president. His compromise was to change the language to read PUBLIC LAND, HARVEST SURVEY and to ELIMINATE THE REST OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE BILL.

After further negotiations, as explained earlier, the original language that requires the DNR to create and manage state forest lands was changed to read TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, USE THE MONEY FROM SUBSECTION (3) TO CREATE AND MANAGE WILD TURKEY HABITAT ON STATE FORESTLAND, STATE GAME AREAS, NATIONAL FORESTLAND, AND PRIVATE FORESTLAND WHERE APPROPRIATE. The rest of the original language was to remain.

On February 14, 2012 the hearing on SB 412 was heard before the House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation committee.

Prior to the hearing Tony Snyder had sent Senator Booher an email advising him that both MWTHA and NWTF were agreeable with the remaining language of the bill. Senator Booher’s staff had advised the house committee chair of this. With Senator Booher at my side I gave a brief explanation of the bill, answered several questions and as I was returning to my seat I turned and told the committee that both the MWTHA and NWTF had agreed to the language of the bill.

Tony Snyder was there, sat down at the microphone, identified himself as representing the NWTF. He stated that he was opposed to the legislation and testified against it. WHAT? He just made a liar out of me. I was embarrassed. He made a fool of not only me but the MWTHA. He had every opportunity to speak to myself or Senator Booher’s Staff but failed to do so. I was outraged but Kara Butters, Senator Booher’s legislative aid was really upset for she was the one who assured the house committee that everyone was in agreement. The NWTF didn’t make any brownie points that day.

Once again the committee chair asked if there could be compromise language before the voted on the bill. Later Snyder and Al Stewart of the DNR and Kara Butters were there. Mr. Snyder?s reason for opposing the bill was that the turkey population in Missouri was in decline. I still haven’t figured that one out yet.

Snyder wanted ANNUAL WILD TURKEY POPULATION SURVEYS changed to ANNUAL WILD TURKEY HARVEST SURVEY. He wanted POPULATION changed to HARVEST. He wanted dead turkeys counted not live ones. Booher’s staff changed the language to read ANNUAL WILD TURKEY HUNTER SURVEY in an attempt to somehow determine population.

Snyder wanted ANNUAL RANDOM DISEASE TESTING ACROSS THE WILD TURKEY RANGE IN THIS STATE to read DISEASE TESTING BASED ON THE NEED THAT IS DETERMINED BY DNR WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN. We did not agree and the language was changed to read DISEASE TESTING FFOR WILD TURKEYS SUSPECTED OF HAVING A DIEASE AND VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. During the hot summer months when the ferns are chest high and ticks and mosquitoes are prevalent thousands of turkey could die of an avian disease and no one would know. Several years ago when a disease was killing humans and birds several farmers contacted the DNR when they found crows and Wild Turkeys dead in their fields. The DNR never responded. Why would they respond now?

On March 5, 2012 the bill passed the house committee unanimously. On March 28 it passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 109-0. On March 29 it passed the Senate with the change in language. On April 11 Governor Snyder signed SB 412 to become Act 81 of 2012. On May 30 a signing ceremony was held at Governor Snyder’s office.

The bill that was initially introduced was nothing more than good wildlife management. The specific reasons for the legislation was explained in detail earlier. Between Tony Snyder representing the NWTF and the DNR they put the hatchet to the bill. We are not the losers because of the watered down bill but most certainly the Wild Turkey is, along with those turkey hunters yet to come.

A very sincere THANK YOU to Senator Booher and his very able and professional staff. It was a great pleasure working with them.

There is more to SB 412 that will be carried in the next issue of Turkey Tracks.

 

Pere Marquette Chapter Fall 2012 Update
Of Public Forests and Turkeys XI