LANSING — State Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint), along with State Reps. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) and Scott VanSingel (R-Newaygo) introduced House Bills 4735-4737 to preserve the scientific integrity of Department of Natural Resource (DNR) studies and halt their use for unsportsmanlike conduct in the taking of game species.
“We must ensure our policies protect practical, scientifically-sound wildlife management options,” Cherry said. “In recent years, the Michigan DNR was forced to end grouse drumming surveys due to unsportsmanlike use of FOIA laws to determine the location of ruffed grouse in order to target those populations for hunting purposes.”
The data collected through these surveys are used to monitor the health and status of Michigan’s ruffed grouse population. These bills would offer the DNR two options when location specific data of game species is requested through FOIA: either grant the request, or require the requestor to sign a waiver indicating they will not utilize the data to pursue game, prior to granting the request.
“We must be diligent and deliberate in our protection of Michigan’s natural resources and environment, whether we are speaking about our water, our soil or the many species that call Michigan home,” Love said. “Using FOIA in a way that targets the populations we are here to preserve and protect is not only wrong, but it’s unsportsmanlike and shouldn’t be tolerated in Michigan.”
House Bill 4735 (VanSingel) would amend the natural resources and Environmental Protection Act to provide for sentencing guidelines of those who have signed and violated the waiver. House Bill 4736 (Cherry) would establish the procedure for the signing of the waiver by requestor. House Bill 4737 (Love) would amend the code of criminal procedure to provide for sentencing guidelines
“Participating in the traditions of hunting, birdwatching, fishing, and other activities show our love and respect for Michigan’s great outdoor spaces. Along with this enjoyment comes a duty of stewardship,” VanSingel said. “This practice, besides its violation of the principles of fair chase, would jeopardize the statistical and scientific validity of grouse drumming surveys.”
House Bills 4735-4737 have been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation and are currently awaiting a hearing.