Vital Fish & Game Tracking Or Senseless Red Tape?
By Beth Milligan | Nov. 16, 2021
Michigan lawmakers are taking another crack at legislation to register and regulate commercial hunting and fishing guides on public lands after several failed attempts in recent legislative sessions.
The House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee held a hearing on the three-bill package — HB 5358, 5359, and 5360 — in late October, marking the first progress on the legislation since the coronavirus derailed momentum last year. As detailed in this week's Northern Express, sister publication of The Ticker, the bipartisan bills are backed by the state’s largest hunting, fishing, and conservation groups, though the move to impose requirements on those who shepherd novice hunters and anglers isn’t without its critics.
Chief among them is former state Rep. Triston Cole, a lifelong guide in Antrim County, who opposed the effort as floor leader for the Michigan House until term limits forced him from office last year. “They are hoping it will go because I’m not there,” Cole says. “I was the most vocally opposed.”
Cole contends the effort is “entirely unnecessary” and argues it will ultimately result in disengaging folks from the outdoors, further fueling an overall decline in hunter and angler numbers the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has struggled to address. Cole points out the loss in participation translates into less money to manage the state’s natural resources and argues the legislation will only make matters worse. Others believe it’s a lot more than that: Mike Thorman, legislative liaison for several hound hunting groups, testified in favor of the legislation last month after years of working with lawmakers and other conservation groups to refine the bills. The main purpose of the legislation remains the same: keeping track of who’s hunting and fishing, where.
“There are people who are selling our fish and game, and the (DNR) should at least know who they are,” Thorman says.
Read more about the debate over the legislation in this week's Northern Express, available to read online and at one of nearly 700 newsstand spots in 14 counties across northern Michigan.