LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism and Outdoor Recreation are considering a Senate Bill package that would begin regulating who could become a hunting and fishing guide in the state of Michigan.
“The purpose of these bills are to create a basic regulatory framework for commercial hunting and fishing guides, for the protection of Michigan’s natural resources and to encourage positive sportsperson experiences in the state,” said Senator John Cherry (D-Flint).
Sen. Cherry added one of the main priorities of Senate Bill 103 is safety, and has been passed by the Michigan Senate.
“The primary objectives include prioritizing client or participant safety, preventing game law violations, and enhancing professionalism across the state’s commercial guiding industry,” Sen. Cherry added. “And to also make sure that the department receives useful data that will help them manage our state’s fish and game populations.”
The license would be valid for three years but would require guides to pay an application fee, which would entail a $150 charge for Michigan residents, and a $350 charge for non-residents.
Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) also spoke in favor of the bill package, drawing special attention to his Senate Bill 105.
“It simply directs that the Natural Resources Commission would have the exclusive and specific authority to regulate sport fishing,” Sen. McCann said to the committee, “And to regulate the use of commercial hunting guides and sport fishing guides in taking game and fish.”
Amy Trotter, CEO of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, also spoke in favor of the bill package.
“I can say with assuredness that this is stakeholder driven,” Trotter said. “We really do lack the regulation for inland hunting and fishing guides here in our state.”
Trotter shared that other states have helped Michigan develop this proposed legislation, which affects a large industry in the state.
“Hunting and fishing is big business in our state, $11.2 billion dollars a year annually,” she added, “What we really want is to recognize, understand, appreciate, and protect the professionalism of our legitimate hunting and fishing guides.”
A scenario the legislation is trying to avoid is to stop someone from poaching one day, therefore losing their ability to hunt temporarily, but then go out and guide someone else on a hunting or fishing trip, in the effort to protect novice hunters and anglers.
Dennis Stakowitz, a grouse hunting guide in the state testified in favor of the bill not only because the number of guides has exploded after COVID, but also because he wants hunters to get a good and safe experience.
“My personal interest, to be honest with you, is to make sure we are giving a good quality experience to people that are coming to Michigan,” he said. “Which means that we have the appropriate first aid certification and so on and so forth, and the appropriate guidelines.”
Part of the bill package would also require guides to hold a valid first aid certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation issued by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or comparable organization, and carry a defined minimum number of items in a first aid kit.
The committee did not vote on the bill package but will consider it at a later date.