Bills would add regulations to hunting, fishing guides

Three bills moving through the Legislature would require state licensure for hunting and fishing guides.

Senate Bills 103, 104, and 105 aim to require licensure for a sport fishing or commercial hunting guide if the person assisted another person to fish or game for a fee or other economic benefit.

The bills would prescribe licensure requirements, fees, penalties, and reporting requirements of guides to the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the bills would make the Natural Resources Commission the exclusive authority to regulate the use of sport fishing or commercial hunting guides in the taking of fish and game.

The bills are sponsored by Sen. John Cherry, D-Flint, Sen. Kevin Daly, R-Lum, and Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo.

The bills are tie-barred, and each would take effect 90 days after its enactment. Specifically, the bills would do the following:

Prescribe eligibility criteria for a guide license, including first aid certification and a record clean of NREPA violations and felony convictions.Prohibit a person from acting as a sport fishing or commercial hunting guide on commercial forestland.Authorize the DNR to revoke a guide license for specified reasons.Prescribe a civil fine for acting as a guide without a license.Require the DNR to post certain license information on its website.Prescribe a civil fine for providing false information to the DNR.

The bills would require guides to report to DNR monthly the species the guide was targeting for hunting or fishing, the number of clients the guide had for each fishing or hunting trip and the number of hours hunted or fished during each trip, the number of fish caught and released, the number of fish harvested by the guide's clients, the bodies of water where the individual acted as guide, and the biological characteristics of the fish caught and released or harvested, and the month.

All commercial guides must possess a valid base hunting ($11) or fishing license ($26), be CPR and first aid certified, and have a state identification card or driver’s license.

If the bills become law the DNR could only grant a commercial guide license to an individual who met all the following:

Held a valid certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation issued by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or a comparable organization approved by the DNR, and that individual could provide a copy of the certification to the DNR upon request.Had a valid, lawfully obtained Michigan driver license, official state personal identification card, or sportcard. Was eligible to purchase a license for the game species for which the individual was acting as a commercial hunting guide; however, this would not apply to an individual who was ineligible solely because he or she had previously been issued a hunting license for that species.

Senate Bill 105 would amend Wildlife Conservation of NREPA to include regulating sport fishing and using commercial guides in taking game, in the Commission's exclusive authority to regulate the taking of game and fish in Michigan.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs says regulations aim to stop those convicted of wildlife violations from guiding other hunters or fishers.

MUCC executive director Amy Trotter said allowing someone who can no longer hunt because they were found guilty of poaching to guide hurts hunters and conservationists.

“Certain, egregious wildlife violations should and would preclude someone from enjoying our natural resources and wildlife as a guide,” Trotter said in a statement. “Our wildlife laws are in place to protect our wildlife species and ensure bountiful opportunities for all Michiganders. ”

She said data reporting from guides would help wildlife resources management.

“No one knows the resources better or cares for it more than Michigan guides,” Trotter said. “We need their help to manage better and ensure that our wildlife and habitat continue to thrive tomorrow for the next generation.”

The bills would require a $150 three-year registration fee for residents and a $300 for non-residents. Existing charter captains operating with a U.S. Coast Guard license are exempt from the registration fee. The money collected from application fees would be deposited into the Game and Fish Protection Account.

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