Lansing, Mich. – Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association are preparing to “Defend the Hunt” by soliciting donated deer and other animal hides.
MUCC and the MTPCA are partnering this deer season to kick off fund-raising to fight an effort by anti-hunting groups to repeal wolf hunting in Michigan.
The Defend the Hunt program will give hunters across the state an opportunity to donate their deer hides, which will be sold at fur auctions this fall and spring. The proceeds will go to help counter an anti-hunting campaign led by the Washington, D.C.–based Humane Society of the United States and its local front group, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.
“We’re hoping to get a significant number of hunters into this,” Drew YoungeDyke, grass-roots manager for MUCC, told Michigan Outdoor News. “It could potentially raise between $100,000 and $200,000 for the campaign to defend hunting rights.
“This is one of the ways MUCC and the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association are working together to raise some of the funds for the broader campaign,” YoungeDyke said.
Leaders from MUCC and numerous conservation and hunting groups throughout the state will meet in coming months to design and implement a strategy for countering two different ballot proposals aimed at repealing wolf hunting in Michigan, a hunt that was approved by the NRC this year. The proposals will have no bearing on the 2013 wolf-hunting season, but could impact future hunts if voters side with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected next November.
The anti-hunting group and its supporters – primarily the HSUS – are expected to spend heavily on advertizing to campaign against the wolf hunt, YoungeDyke said, but the ballot proposals are about a lot more than hunting wolves.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected already has run ads that play off fears of inhumane hunting practices, such as shooting wolves from helicopters, YoungeDyke said. HSUS and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected also are attempting to convince voters the Michigan wolf hunt is about taking “trophy” animals, rather than the stated purpose of reducing wolf-human conflicts.
Public Act 21, one of the two laws targeted by the anti-hunting initiative, “is fundamentally about how we manage wildlife in the state,” YoungeDyke said.
The issue boils down to managing wildlife by proven, sound science – as called for by Proposal G, which was approved by voters in 1996 – or through politics and 30-second commercials used by groups like Keep Michigan Wolves Protected to sway voters, he said.
The anti-hunting campaign has “collected well over a half million dollars (to promote the ballot proposals) … but only about 5 percent has come from Michigan,” YoungeDyke said. “Given their past actions, and the money they’ve already sunk into this campaign … we fully expect them to take out quite a bit of media advertising.”
To counter that influence, MTPCA volunteers will be collecting donated deer hides at 50 to 100 different drop-off sites across the state, and will sell the hides at upcoming fur auctions. Money raised through the sale of the furs will be used to “educate the public about Public Act 21 and correct the anti-hunters’ false claims,” according to a joint MUCC-MTPCA statement.
Dennis Cronk, convention coordinator for the MTPCA, said members of his group have used fur drives to raise funds for other causes, and are expanding the program statewide for the first time as fur prices continue to climb because of demand from Russia and China.
“This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the recent boom in the (fur) market,” Cronk said, adding that the MTPCA plans to collect deer and most other hides through the spring. “Your average (deer) hide, untanned, will be able to get between $8 and $14.
“Our hope is to generate a large-enough fund this year to supplement what the coalition is getting to fight the referendums next year.”
Cronk said the MTPCA also plans to collect donated hides at two major national fur sales, as well as through its partnership with the National Trappers Association.
MTPCA volunteers will begin collecting deer hides in Michigan on Nov. 1 at dozens of sites listed on the “Defend the Hunt” website: www.DefendtheHunt.com. If hunters donate their hide within a day or two of shooting the deer, they can simply drop off the hide. Beyond two days, the MTPCA asks that hunters spread two pounds of salt on the hide and wrap it up until it can be donated.
Instructions on how to salt and preserve a deer hide also are available on the Defend the Hunt website.
Craig Plowman, president of Royal Oak Archers in southeast Michigan, said his groups is proud to be one of the first clubs to sign on as a fur drop-off point.
“I like the idea,” Plowman told Michigan Outdoor News. “To my knowledge, we have never done anything like this at Royal Oak Archers. I think it’s our turn to step up for conservation.
“If we want to defend our rights and protect the tradition of hunting, we have to raise money to combat the anti-hunters,” he said.