ESCANABA - Hunters will have an opportunity to have their voice heard on the management of game species in the Upper Peninsula at a meeting hosted by the Upper Peninsula Sportsman's Alliance.
"(The UPSA is) made up of Upper Peninsula organizations, wildlife groups, clubs, individuals, and businesses - who are like sponsors. It's a very, very big organization for the Upper Peninsula. It represents probably 40,000 people, men and women," said Rory Mattson, chairman of the UPSA's forestry wildlife committee.
For the past three years the forestry wildlife committee has been working to address the issue of game species management in the U.P. One concern for the committee and the organization as a whole is that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been releasing policy and guidance documents for the management of Michigan's forests and wildlife - documents which the UPSA says may not serve the interests of hunters.
The meeting, which will be held Thursday, June 26, at 6 p.m. at Pioneer Trail Park, is designed to allow the public to weigh in on the issue of game management and guide the UPSA on how to best approach the DNR.
"What we're finding out within the Department (of Natural Resources) is that a salamander, a butterfly, and a white-tailed deer are all equal - and that's probably fine for a biologist, but when you actually look at the funding and everything, how it comes, sportsmen ... and women, put in quite a bit of money for the hunting sport," said Mattson, adding that the majority of money used for the DNR's wildlife and fisheries divisions comes from hunters and anglers.
Based on the guiding documents released by the DNR, the UPSA believes the department is planning to work toward pre-settlement conditions, which would mean that natural landscape and species would return to what was recorded in the area prior to the establishment of cities and towns.
"We think there should be a little bit more of a priority on game species management here in the U.P. because of history, economics, and the recreational potential, especially for the Pure Michigan campaign," said Mattson.
The UPSA drafted and approved a tentative game management plan to present to the DNR in April. At the June 26 meeting the public will hear a brief presentation, an explanation of the proposal, and be asked to give input on how the UPSA should proceed.
"It's their resource. (Let's) see where they want us to go and see how they want us to interact with the Department of Natural Resources," said Mattson, noting the public and all interested parties are encouraged to attend the meeting.