July 23 ē 11:41 AM

It's time to get serious and time to get involved

July 01, 2007
Oh, woe is us. If it isn't too few deer, it's too many. If it isn't TB, it's being on alert for CWD. If it isn't too many antlerless deer permits being issued, it's too few. Now we are confronted with a sizeable increase in our hunting, trapping and fishing licenses.

Many hunters are more than just weekend warriors. There are those who are concerned about the welfare of our precious wildlife and their habitat, not just the recreation part of it. Our MDNR has a motto, "Maximum recreation for the maximum number of people."

This message doesn't give the general public the right mind-set. It gives the impression that our MDNR is there to guarantee your pleasure in observing much wildlife and the taking of plentiful wild game. There is no doubt that over the years we have seen and experienced an increase of wildlife from turkeys to a large number of deer in some areas. As for some of us, we cannot see too many deer, while others more interested in a balanced deer herd see it differently. No matter what you're thinking, it is inarguably a major improvement in the management of our resources, thanks to the NRC and the MDNR. That doesn't mean that they are off the hook, there's much more to do and it would be best if the citizens of Michigan did it with you.

First, MDNR, get rid of your motto, which encourages citizen complacency, and challenge us to join you in making Michigan and its resources the envy of all. You cannot do it yourself and shouldn't be expected to. We have a monetary problem in the management and protection of our resources. So, let's fix it together and for the long term. Our resources belong to everybody and everybody should carry the burden in its cost. Yes, everybody, not just the sportsmen and sportswomen.

There are other states such as Missouri, which takes 1/8 of one percent of its sales tax and dedicates it to the management of its resources. Check them out and you will find out, all is fine with many progressive and successful programs in place.

Some politicians may say 'it's not the time for this.' Then, just what is the value of our resources? Ask your political leaders to address this monetary problem for the long term. Yeah, I know, Rome wasn't built in a day, but some nutball burned it down in a day. Let's keep our resources intact and healthy. It doesn't take much inattention to degrade our resources to the point of no return.

Let's get on board with our natural resources decision makers and challenge them to do more with less and accept their challenge to be involved in the preservation and maximum management of our resources. Perhaps the new motto should be, 'Maximum management of our natural resources for their maximum health.'

There are many areas that need attention and improvement. Example, the loss of 50% of all fawns within two weeks of their birth in the U.P. following a normal winter season is fixable. The loss of precious native vegetation to the point of extinction due to excessive browsing of deer is fixable. The present unnatural sex ratio and age structure of our deer is fixable.

But it won't be fixed by the initiatives of our decision makers without your demand. Some fixes will take much cooperation from private landowners, with probable cost sharing. Again, our U.P. is a unique jewel that needs constant upkeep in its habitat to maintain the health of deer year round. It is true; we can fix the excessive loss of fawns as noted. We can address successfully the starvation of deer in their less than ample winter yarding areas. We can have in the U.P. a constant healthy deer herd of 500,000 and maintain them in a healthy state by minimizing the harsh winter stresses. There is now a method of conifer maintenance, (cedar and hemlock yarding regeneration) to address the above.

This will take time; money and cooperation with private landowners as our own respected and renowned deer researcher John Ozoga will tell you.

We have a problem if what I hear about our governor recently stopping all fringe spending, including the Deer Range Improvement Funds, (DRIP). These are restricted funds and cannot be used for other purposes. This fund comes from all hunting licenses sold with $1.50 of each license sold being allocated to the DRIP fund. Our Wildlife Department of the MDNR has been involved in creating food plots on public lands since the 1970's as one use of these funds. Perhaps a sparse diet for a year for someone might change their mind. This is unconscionable and needs to be reversed.

Yes, 'it's time to get serious.' Please call, email, write your state legislative representative to do the right thing and get our natural resource funding into a healthy state, which will create and maintain our resources into state of health never seen before.

Ed Spinazzola sits on the Mid Michigan Branch QDMA Board of directors and is on the National QDMA Board of Directors.n

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