HOUGHTON - When Rodney Stokes became director of the Department of Natural Resources in March, one of his main objectives was reversing the decline in hunting and fishing license sales.
Stokes talked about some of the efforts to address that problem, as well as the status of the effort to delist wolves, during an interview with the Gazette Wednesday.
A bill passed by the state House Tuesday would allow children under 10 to hunt with an adult mentor 21 or older. The DNR supports the bill, which Stokes said will allow more opportunities for families to hunt.
Michigan DNR?Director Rodney Stokes visited The Daily Mining Gazette’s Houghton office Wednesday. (DMG photo by Kelly Fosness)
"We think the parents are the best judges of whether their children should be out in the field hunting," he said.
Stokes said he has been talking with hunter's safety groups in areas of the state where hunting, particularly among youth, is down. He is asking hunters to bring other people into the fold.
"If they're a hunter, I'm asking them to take someone out who does not hunt and teach them how to hunt," he said.
If someone lacks a hunter's safety certificate, they can get an apprentice hunting license. If 17 or under, they must hunt with a parent, guardian, or someone they designate who is 21 or older. If older than 17, they have to hunt with someone over 21.
The apprentice period lasts for two years before the person must take a hunter's safety test. However, Stokes, said, the test can be taken online.
"We're making it a little more convenient for hunters to get into the field," he said.
A proposal to allow moose hunting may run into more obstacles. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a bill last year that created an advisory council to study what impact hunting would have on the moose population.
Public meetings were held recently in Newberry and Alberta, drawing a combined 65 people. Most of those people urged caution, Stokes said.
"The public view is to not have a moose hunt right now," he said.
To give feedback on allowing moose hunting, e-mail the DNR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DNR is also partnering with Pheasants Forever to rebuild the state's pheasant population, creating pheasant recovery areas in three regions downstate.
"We think this is a tremendous opportunity for small game hunting," Stokes said.
While not hunting-related, the DNR is also backing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's proposal to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered species.
Though still a non-game species, they would be subject to "lethal control" in cases where they prey on farm animals.
A previous delisting was overturned, but Stokes said the legal road appears to be clear.
"We feel that the delisting process will continue, and we feel we'll be able to wrap that up by the end of the calendar year, if not before," he said.
Fr more information on the proposal, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/delisting/index.htm.
"I would ask that (people) put their comments in to the federal government about that whole delisting process," Stokes said.