New fee has pheasant hunters up in arms

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Pheasant. Image: Gary Noon, Wikimedia Commons

By Maddy O’Callaghan
Capital News Service

A controversial proposal crawling through the Michigan Legislature would require pheasant hunters to buy a special $25-a-year stamp, with proceeds earmarked for stocking the birds and habitat protection on state land.

The Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative also would promote efforts to recruit and retain hunters, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs, which supports the proposal.

The Legislature appropriated $260,000 in 2018 as an interim measure while looking for a long-term funding mechanism, MUCC public information officer Nick Green said.

Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, proposed a bill to require an additional $25 stamp for pheasant hunting on top of a small game license. Co-sponsors include Reps. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine; Bronna Kahle, R-Adrian; Daire Rendon, R-Lake City; and Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette.

According to a House Fiscal Agency analysis, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would use the fees to “acquire, restore or enhance” lands managed for pheasant hunting. Seventy-five percent would be used to pay for pheasant release efforts on state game area sites and 25% would go to habitat restoration for pheasants.

Green said there’s confusion over the purpose of the additional permit and initiative. He specified that it’s not an effort to increase the population of wild pheasants.

The initiative would get more Michiganians involved in hunting, as most hunters begin with small game, he said.

“This is to get people into the field and keep them in the field,” Green said. “That’s how we fund and sustain hunters in Michigan.”

Green said hunters are concerned that planting birds bred in captivity would interfere with wild pheasant hunting. Bill Vander Zouwen, Pheasants Forever regional representative, said that the organization is concerned that weekly stocking stress pheasant habitats.

Al Stewart, a gamebird and upland specialist for the DNR, says that shouldn’t be a concern, as released birds don’t live as long in the wild.

He says efforts to support wild pheasants should be focused on habitat restoration.

“We have the recipe book, we know what it requires to maintain a stable population,” Stewart said. “You have to have a good habitat first. And if you’re releasing birds, you still need to provide a good habitat.”

States like Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois release pheasants as an effective way to maintain interest in pheasant hunting, Stewart said.

Green says that the bill has to pass soon if the initiative is to continue for 2021

“We want to get out in front of this and clear the air so that those who are wild pheasant hunters understand that (the initiative) isn’t trying to interfere,” Green said. “All hunters and pheasant hunters need to be walking together on this issue.”

The bill, introduced last March, is in the House Judiciary Committee.

12 thoughts on “New fee has pheasant hunters up in arms

  1. Someone sitting behind the desk all day. Not in the field hunting like us. should go to south Dakota Noth Dakota or Kansas ..and take notes…fine out what works …then talk about a stamp..

  2. Where did we get the pheasants in the first place? From huge stocking programs this would be the only way we could get the birds back.Then strong yearly stocking programs it would take thousands of birds and a lot of work and it would have to go on for years 10 would be a good number. Domestic cats are the pheasants worse enemy in mi.

  3. News Flash; Pheasants Forever. The planted birds won’t hurt the wild bird’s food supply. The only thing that will hurt the wild pheasent and ruffed grouse food supply is those useless TURKEYS.

  4. what a waste of money !75 % for pheasants and 25 % for habitat . That’s really not going to get the job done. Will the majority of those birds get stocked on the east side of the state like in 2019 ? Any in northern or western Michigan ? Did the 2019 stocking meet the goal of getting new hunters into the field or young hunters ? Was an evaluation done to determine if it met it’s objective ?

  5. The habitate in Indiana state land has never helped. Michigan would be the same. This would be more money for the MI. Dnr. And most likely a loss of public land only to be classified as a sanctuary only.

  6. This is BS! Reverse the percentage reasons. No more releases ever! Put Take didn’t work before! I won’t be buying their BS stamp!

  7. The test this year was incredible. So many smiles, happy faces. The released birds were in areas with no wild populations. The releases the did for the youth hunters were spectacular. Could it have been improved. You bet. Is it done successfully in other states? YES. Good program that cold be great. More suggestion have been passed along, and our hope is they make it to the phesantadent

  8. Come on guys, 25 dollars is the price of one game bird at a pheasant farm bird. It’s a small price for what you get. I hunted the stocked birds on public land it was well received.

  9. Another put and take program that for the people that are to cheap to pay at a game preserve. Pheasant stamps work where their is pheasants an I have talked with a lot of other hunters and we will not buy into this program. DNR has neglected small game for years because it don’t bring in big money like Deer and Turkey if you are serious about getting people back into hunting spend the money on the 3 R’s programs.

  10. I love the comment about native pheasants, pheasants aren’t native to North America. They were imported from China.

    Native means that they were born in the wild, so after a few years these released birds would be increasing the native population.

    The biggest issue is creating the best habitat. CRP is a wonderful program, but if it was the best solution we would see a direct cause and effect going on. As more acres of CRP are planted, we would see an increase in pheasant populations and as fewer acres are planted the population would go down.

    What variables are we missing?

    Is it food?

    Is it shelter?

    Is it water?

    Is it over predation?

    What combination would help the population grow year after year?

    Could creating a balance between hunting and sanctuary be the solution?

    What’s that?

    Imagine a huge section with fence rows every 100 yards, with different food strips and habitat flowing along these fence lines.

    Imagine diving this huge field in half.


    Reducing hunting pressure and limiting predation.

    If we only allowed hunters to only hunt half of this field the birds would have a safe place for the day. Then if we limited hunting to just odd numbered rows in the morning and even rows in the afternoon, more hunters could enjoy hunting all day long.

    The next day the side that was off limits would be hunting and the other side would be the sanctuary.

    Youth and retirees would be allowed to be blockers while everyone else had to walk the fence rows traditionally.

    The built in safety by having rows 100 yards apart is that different hunting parties would be 200 yards apart reducing the chances of accidentally shooting someone.

    This idea seems like a logical solution to both better hunting opportunities over the entire day and every day of the week. As not all the property is hunted blowing the birds off, while giving the birds a place to enjoy a hunting pressure free zone.

  11. In Indiana, Illinois and other states, DNR sponsored pheasant hunting is strictly “pay to Play.” Want to hunt a stocked area, pay for the opportunity that day. Want to hunt only wild birds, go somewhere else and meet only the regular license requirements.
    By and large, the DNR biologists should know which areas are capable of supporting wild pheasants and which aren’t. Don’t stock pen reared birds for hunting in areas where wild pheasants will live, given the habitat.

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