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MWHA planning details

There is a long-standing need to set and clarify habitat and hunting management goals and objectives for the seven Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas (MWHAs) in the Southeast Region and Southwest Region: Shiawassee River, Nayanquing Point, Fish Point, Harsens Island, Pte. Mouillee, Fennville Farm, and Muskegon Wastewater.

MWHA workgroup

The Wildlife Division formed a MWHA workgroup. Members include Joe Robison (Sponsor), Barb Avers (Chair), Mark Mills, Jeremiah Heise, Don Poppe, John Darling, Adam Shook, Hunter Pulling, Erin Victory, and Erin Rowan. The workgroup is charged with developing two interrelated MWHA Plans – one for managed hunting operations and one for habitat management.

The plans will

  • Provide direction for short- and long-term decision-making processes about managed hunting operations and habitat management.
  • Define goals, objectives, and priorities for the MWHAs.
  • Recognize MWHA importance to a diversity of wildlife species and wildlife-related recreation.
  • Identify how MWHAs contribute to the updated Wildlife Division Guiding Principles and Strategies (GPS).
  • Provide consistency between areas while still recognizing their uniqueness.

The expected outcomes of the planning process:

  • An evaluation of current managed hunt operations and potential alternatives by March 2023.
  • 10-year managed hunting plan with implementation beginning August 2023.
  • An evaluation of current habitat management and potential alternatives by March 2024.
  • 10-year MWHA habitat plan with implementation beginning August 2024.
  • Internal and external engagement to gather input and feedback for plan development.
  • Internal and external Communication Plan.

Why is an MWHA plan needed?

  • Address declining hunter numbers.
  • Address projected declines in budgets and workforce.
  • Identify and address the year-round habitat and recreational value of the MWHAs.
  • Address updated goals and objectives in the Wildlife Division GPS, including managing habitats and wildlife for a diverse set of values (e.g., health, quality of life, ecological, economic, and socio-cultural) and working with communities to improve conservation outcomes.
  • Better tie how these areas and associated habitats contribute to regional and statewide habitat goals, climate resiliency, and local community plans.
  • Identified need to increase Wildlife Division’s relevancy to non-hunting stakeholders.

The planning process:

A formal process will be used to set objectives and develop the plans that is science-based, transparent, and inclusive.

  • There will be multiple opportunities for a diversity of stakeholders to provide input and feedback during the development of the plans.
  • Stakeholder input is valued and necessary and we will be seeking a diversity of perspectives.
  • A diversity of management alternatives will be identified and evaluated with stakeholder input, and the workgroup will provide recommended alternatives to Wildlife Division leadership, who will make final decisions.

The workgroup places a high priority on communication and engagement, both externally and internally.

  • Engagement will likely include opportunities for online input, structured in-person meetings, surveys, etc.

Timeline:

  • Over the next four to five months, the workgroup will focus on evaluation and assessment of current managed hunting.
  • During spring/summer 2022, the workgroup will conduct stakeholder engagement and a structured decision-making process to develop objectives and alternatives for managed hunting operations.
  • The workgroup will seek input on draft objectives and alternatives throughout summer/fall 2022.