ESCANABA - In being trained as a Hunter Safety Instructor for the State of Michigan, I fully appreciate the statistics that we, the hunters, trappers and fishermen of this state, only make up about 15 percent of the general population.
We pay for most of the conservation, wildlife and habitat projects, yet we are only a small portion of the general ownership. We are entrusted as stewards of the outdoors and thus often receive public support.
It is with this knowledge I become totally frustrated when an outside self-serving entity, such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has again come forward to work over the unsuspecting legislature with yet more misleading propaganda, this time regarding the potential of introducing an annual moose hunt to the Upper Peninsula.
We have successfully maintained a population of elk in an area of the state that has adequate habitat and range for elk to remain as wild.
Each year Michigan provides a lottery drawing that allows a very limited number of hunters a chance at harvesting an elk by fair chase methods. It serves to keep elk in balance with their habitat and the opportunity for a chance at a genuine Michigan hunt.
Russ Mason, Wildlife Chief for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, has been at the helm for just over one year. He has taken exhaustive measures to familiarize himself with the lay of the land, concerns and issues before our state's conservationists.
One area of interest is the sustained population of moose.
Mason believes the time has come to utilize the moose as a Michigan game species, following the same common sense methods used in offering the annual elk and bear hunts via lottery.
According to an action alert issued last week from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), it is estimated there remains a sustained population of moose in the UP, with 100 in the eastern area and 480 in the western reaches.
Since the first and second moose lift to re-establish the species in the early 1980's, and given the need to fund continued wildlife management including the moose, the time is now to start realizing a return on investment.
On March 3, 2010, Senate Bill 1013, introduced by Sen. Jason Allen (R-Traverse City), was passed to the House and calls for the requirement of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to issue orders establishing a moose hunting season in Michigan, allowing at least one moose to be taken each season.
Current numbers indicate the population could sustain a 12 moose annual quota. It would require Michigan residents to have a moose hunting license for a $100 license fee, and a non-refundable application fee of up to $4.
The law would also create, for one year only, a seven-member Moose Hunting Advisory Council within the MDNRE to issue a report on whether moose hunting should be expanded.
It should be noted that no Michigan Game & Fish Fund dollars were used to re-establish the moose population. The funds were provided through outside grants, seeded by the Safari Club International Michigan Involvement Committee .
Subsequent research including the annual population survey, has also been funded mostly by the same sources. To date SCI/MIC has invested over $1 million into the project.
The new program would expand hunting opportunity and enhance a weak revenue base for the MDNRE. The $4 application fee should offset any fiscal impact to the MDNRE and comparative numbers from other lottery hunts support the current projections.
In 2009, 57,285 hunters applied for the black bear hunt, and 38,826 hunters applied for the elk hunt. If an average amount of hunters try for a moose tag, the MDNRE would realize over $192,000 in new revenue, not including the tag costs.
Now enter the Humane Society of the United States.
They've not contributed one dime toward any of the moose projects costs.
Again according to the bulletin issued by MUCC, the nation's largest anti-hunting group is at it again. The HSUS has been asking the members of the Michigan House of Representatives to vote "no" on SB1013.
Even with the science based objectives of the proposed Michigan moose hunt, the Washington based HSUS has hired a lobbyist and staff member in Michigan to defeat bills like SB1013.
They not only categorize their anti-hunting action alert under animal abuse, they are also intentionally lying to unsuspecting members of the legislature about the bill.
One example is a statistic they use that, "Wildlife watchers contribute more to Michigan's economy than sportsmen by a 4:1 ratio; therefore, Michigan's economy will suffer if a limited (moose) harvest season is created."
According to MUCC, "Sportsmen and women pay for conservation of our state's wildlife. According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, hunting/fishing expenditures in Michigan by residents and non-residents are roughly $3.5 billion annually ($2,071 per person average), which provides an additional $5.9 billion economic ripple effect on the state's economy. Wildlife watching expenditures are about $1.1 billion annually ($332 per person average) and 23 percent of those folks also fish or hunt."
As a member of the Upper Peninsula Sportmen's Alliance (UPSA), I sit on their Legislative Committee and I intend to fully ask UPSA to join the statewide campaign to once again defeat HSUS with facts and the true intention of the natural resources stewards of the State of Michigan.
You can help by contacting your local legislator and ask for their support of SB1013, to establish a limited moose hunt in the UP.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications and the Internet Saturday mornings.