WE LIVE IN a fast-paced, increasingly urbanized world. From our climate-controlled homes and offices, surrounded by smartphones and laptops, it’s easy to overlook the importance of nature and the critters that live among us.
Nevertheless, we’re all impacted by wildlife and wild places — not only hunters and anglers, hikers and mountain bikers, but folks from every walk of life. Even city commuters speeding past farmlands are touched by the natural world, whether they’re conscious of it or not.
The newly formed Michigan Wildlife Council is a cooperative effort that aims to protect and promote those resources. Its goals include advancing conservation and wildlife management education, supporting scientific wildlife management, and educating the public on the environmental and economic benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping.
The council was made possible by a two-part initiative: Public Act 108, which revamped the hunting and fishing license fee structure, earmarking $1 for education from every license sold; and Public Act 246, which created the Michigan Wildlife Management Public Education Fish and Game Sub Account.
The council’s nine members are appointed by the governor and represent a broad range of constituencies. They include Keith Creagh, who is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources director, as well as sportsmen and representatives of the agricultural and business communities from all corners of the state.
“We like to think of ourselves as a well-rounded group,” says Carol Moncrieff Rose, committee chairwoman. “Our goal is to make wildlife management issues relevant, to plant the seeds of awareness so people will have a better understanding of natural resource management.”
Take, for example, a concern currently facing residents of Ann Arbor. The densely populated area is overpopulated with deer, and choices must be made about how to handle the burgeoning herd. “Understanding the tools and techniques of wildlife management helps informed citizens make good decisions in their communities,” explains Rose.
Güd Marketing, of Lansing, recently partnered with the MWC to assist with the education and information development process for the initiative.
“One of the critical components of this campaign is reaching people who don’t have close contact with Michigan’s natural resources and helping them understand the vital roles that hunting and fishing play in wildlife management,” notes Güd Marketing President Elissa Crumley.
According to the firm’s research, about 81 percent of Michigan residents approve of hunting to some degree; 47 percent strongly approve; and 34 percent moderately approve. The MWC is looking to reach those who moderately approve and those who are neutral.
Some may ask, why bother?
Besides the fact that our natural resources are worth protecting, hunting, fishing and the taking of game are a vital part of Michigan’s economy, garnering nearly $5 billion each year and supporting more than 70,000 direct jobs. While some people assume conservation funding stems from tax revenue, the money actually originates from sportsmen and women.
“Decisions related to hunting impact so much more than just hunters and the game they pursue,” Rose explains. “They directly affect sales at grocery stores and gas stations, sporting goods stores and hotels, as well.”
For more information, visit michiganwildlifecouncil.org.