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Michigan Bear Hunting Limit Act, Proposal D (1996)

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The Michigan Hunting Limit Act, also known as Proposal D was an initiated state statute on the November 5, 1996 election ballot in Michigan, where it was defeated.

The proposal sought to amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to limit bear hunting season and prohibit the use of bait and dogs to hunt bear.[1]

Election results

Proposal D (Hunting Limit Act)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No2,225,67561.7%
Yes 1,379,340 38.3%

Official results via: The Michigan Manual 2009-2010

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

Proposal D would enact a statute prohibiting the use of bait or dogs to chase or hunt bears in Michigan. It also would make it unlawful to take bear by any means from March 1 through August 31, and during deer, bobcat, or raccoon season if baiting or hunting with dogs is permitted for those game species (Under present hunting restrictions, this would limit bear season to September 1 through September 30.). People convicted of violating the law would forfeit their hunting license for three years for their first offense, and be permanently prohibited from obtaining a hunting license if convicted a second time.

Current Michigan Bear Management

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), there are an estimated 12,000 black bears in the state, with 1,522 harvested through hunting last year. Sine 1990, the MDNR has managed the bear population through the establishment of harvest quotas for each of 10 bear management zones, and the issuance of licenses based on anticipated hunter "success rates." In 1995, over 25,000 hunters applied for a bear license, and 5,600 licenses were issued via a lottery system. Hunting season is limited to September 10 through October 26, and hunters are not allowed to shoot cubs, or sows with cubs.

In Michigan, 80% of bear hunters set out bait to attract bears, and 15% use dogs to track down and tree a bear. Both of these methods have a 30% success rate. The remaining 5% of bear hunters use stalking methods, with an estimated 3% to 5% success rate in Michigan.

Impact of Proposal D

Michigan bear hunters would be required to use stalking methods to harvest bear. The MDNR would continue to monitor the bear population through management zones, but probably would increase the number of licenses issued to reflect the lower success rate. (For example, if the desired harvest were 1,500 bears, the DNR would need to issue 30,000 to 50,000 licenses to reach that goal, assuming a 3% to 5% sucess rate.) The MDNR also could expand the proposed bear hunting season by prohibiting bait or dogs during portions of deer, bobcat, or raccoon season; increase harvest by allowing the taking of sows and cubs; or control the population through destruction of bears by agency employees and contractual bounty hunting.

Proponents of this proposal claim that the use of dogs for bear hunting increases trespass complaints on private property, and that the use of either bait or dogs to hunt bear is not ethical. Opponents claim that the use of bait and/or dogs allows for more careful selection of the bear during the hunting process, and that the stalking method is not effective in Michigan's swampy bear habitat.

According to wildlife biologists, bear nuisance problems occur due to development pressure in bear habitats, homeowner practices, and the available natural food supply. Opponents of the proposal claim that it will result in insufficient harvest of black bears, increase their population, and create more problems in this area. Proponents point to other states that have increased nuisance problems in spite of increased bear harvests, and claim that the two issues are unrelated.

Other States

Of the 26 states with bear hunting, 10 allow the use of bait, 18 allow the use of dogs, and eight allow the use of both bait and dogs. In Colorado (which banned the use of bait and dogs in 1992), the number of bear harvested has not changed significantly, but the number of bear hunters increased by 86%. New York prohibited the use of dogs in 1990, but has limited data on its impact. At present, this initiative is on the ballot in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Massachusetts.

Passage of Proposals D and G

Proposal D is on the ballot as a result of petition signatures collected by a Michigan citizen organization. If a majority of the electors cast "yes" votes on Proposal D, it will be enacted into law. If the law is enacted, it cannot be repealed or amended by the Legislature except with a three-fourths vote.

Proposal G is on the ballot as a result of Public Act 377 of 1996 (Senate Bill 1033), which provides that Public Act 377 cannot take effect unless it is approved by a majority of the electors. If a majority of the electors cast "yes" votes on Proposal G, it will amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. It could be amended at any time by a majority vote of the Legislature.

In the event that both Proposal D and Proposal G are approved, the proposal with the higher number of votes will take precedence if there is a conflict between the language of the proposals.

See also

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References


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