With several seasoned veterans on wildlife issues on board, the state's Moose Hunting Advisory Council seemed to be headed in the right direction after its initial organizational session held in Marquette recently.
The seven-member panel is charged under state law with drafting a report by Dec. 22 on impacts moose hunting would have on the moose population and the various economic benefits associated with moose hunting.
After meeting for a shorter time than expected, the group laid out agenda topics for the next two meetings, which are expected to be identical presentations intended to reach audiences in the eastern and western parts of the U.P.
"I think at the end of that second meeting, we'll be in a much better position to start laying out the agenda for other meetings," said council Chairman Jim Ekdahl, a retired Michigan Department of Natural Resources official who was appointed to the council from a list of names provided by the senate majority leader. Ekdahl was made chairman by consensus among the council.
The meeting topics developed include the council's purpose and charge, a presentation on moose history, biology and hunting considerations in Michigan, tribal interests and participation, economic impacts to the DNR and the local economy of offering a hunt, a presentation on modeling scenarios which can loosely predict outcomes of a hunt, review of the penalties for moose poaching and information on how moose hunts are conducted in other states.
There will be time designated for public comment, which will be recorded by a clerk.
The panel is expected to meet several times between now and the completion of its report, all in the Upper Peninsula, with efforts made to move the sessions around geographically.
For those interested downstate, updates will be made during meetings of the Natural Resources Commission.
A website option for submitting public comments is being created.
Other members of the council include Jason Dinsmore of the National Wildlife Federation, who was absent from Wednesday's meeting; Jim Hammill, a former DNR wildlife biologist who was selected to the council from a list of names provided by the speaker of the house; George Lindquist from the West Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council and Regional Michigan United Conservation Clubs representative; Mick Jarvi of the Upper Peninsula Sportsmens' Alliance; DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason and an as-yet-unnamed tribal representative from the Michigan Intertribal Council.
The council is bent on including public input into their process and we know that is not only a good idea, but essential in keeping the public's trust in the council and its aims.
We think this is a good group to be looking at this issue and their work so far is off to a great start.