Michigan pheasant hunters 18 and older will now need a $25 stamp to pursue pheasants on public land in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
Introduced by Rep. Gary Howell (R-North Branch), HB 4313 came about during the first year of the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative (MPHI) — an R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) pheasant release program aimed at getting more hunters afield — as a way to fund the program.
The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 31, 2020, has a sunset of Jan. 1, 2026. Monies collected from stamp purchases will be placed into an earmarked subaccount used for the purchase of pheasants that will be released on state lands.
In an amended form that passed the Michigan House of Representatives in March 2020, the pheasant stamp would have been required statewide on public and private lands and included 25 percent of stamp funds being used for habitat and 75 percent for bird purchase and release. However, in its final form as passed by the Senate, no habitat money for pheasants was included in the bill, but the stamp is only required for hunting public lands in the Lower Peninsula.
While the aim of the program is not intended to bolster wild pheasant numbers or improve habitat in Michigan, there isn’t a reason the two goals can’t coexist with a release program, said Amy Trotter, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) executive director. Programs working in both areas will be needed to help curb hunter decline, she continued.
“We understand there is concern from individuals that the habitat money was removed from the Senate version of the bill, as we know habitat is a critical component of a healthy wild pheasant population, but this program is about increasing hunter engagement,” Trotter said. “MUCC sits on the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative steering committee and is a founding member. We will continue to work with the DNR and stakeholder groups to ensure we are collectively doing everything in our power to offer both quality habitat and hunting opportunities.”