House Republicans introduced a bill to reintroduce year-round coyote hunting

A Michigan lawmaker is advocating for the reinstatement of year-round hunting rights for individuals with a fur harvester license who hunt coyotes.

State Representative Greg Markkanen, a Republican from Hancock, has recently proposed House Bill 5721 with the aim of restoring the rights of hunters. Markkanen believes that this legislation would effectively provide hunters with the opportunity to exercise their rights once again.

A group of house Republicans introduced a bill in response to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission’s decision to halt the coyote hunting season from mid-April to mid-July. The commission’s vote, which went against the year-round hunting period in place from 2016 to 2020, prompted the lawmakers to take action.

Markkanen emphasized the imperative of not allowing coyotes to roam freely. He highlighted the fact that these predators pose a constant danger to livestock, pets, and even children, without regard for seasons or regulations. Markkanen stressed the urgency of addressing this issue head-on and proposed the idea of year-round hunting of coyotes, emphasizing the need for unwavering commitment and no exceptions.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs in Ingham filed a lawsuit claiming that the restrictions imposed by the Michigan Natural Resource Commission on coyote hunting lacked scientific basis.

According to Amy Trotter, the CEO of MUCC, the commission has failed to provide any scientific evidence or justification for the closure. Trotter points out that there was ample public testimony supporting the benefits of coyote hunting during the spring season, along with cited literature.

The current coyote hunting season permits property owners to shoot nuisance coyotes during the spring and summer. However, according to the bill sponsors, this season fails to address issues on public property. Markkanen highlighted an incident at Greenfield Village last month to support this argument. Despite being situated within an urban population, a coyote attacked a sheep at the outdoor history museum.

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According to co-sponsor and Representative Dave Prestin, R-Cedar River, coyote hunting serves a crucial purpose in preserving ecological equilibrium and safeguarding our communities. He emphasizes that coyotes are resilient predators whose populations can rapidly spiral out of control, posing risks to livestock and pets. By endorsing year-round coyote hunting, we fulfill our obligation to responsibly manage wildlife populations.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued a memorandum to the NRC on January 16, proposing a shortened season for coyote hunting. Their concern stemmed from public perception, despite no significant increase in coyote hunting during the previous year-round season from 2016-2020.

According to a memo, there is a growing concern regarding the social perception and potential loss of management tools if the open season for coyote hunting continues to permit the hunting of coyotes when they have dependent young. The proposed change aims to address this by disallowing the harvest of coyotes while female coyotes have dependent young. It is important to note that even with this change, the coyote hunting season will still remain one of the most liberal seasons in the state, spanning over nine months.

The memo suggests that the majority of members from the “Furtaker User Group” support the decision. However, it is worth noting that some groups mentioned in the memo, like the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, have publicly criticized the closure of the season. In fact, the MTPCA has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit against the NRC through the Mackinac County Circuit Court.

According to Markkanen, the NRC has acknowledged the excessive presence of coyotes. He criticizes the fact that all the members of the NRC were appointed by Governor Whitmer and claims that they are obligated to rely on sound science. However, Markkanen believes that they succumbed to political pressure exerted by anti-hunting liberal activists, which, in his opinion, taints their decision as purely political.

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The Government Operations Committee has received Markkanen’s bill and will now review it for further consideration.

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