ESCANABA - The UP Sportsmen's Alliance (UPSA) has taken a leadership role in the efforts necessary to combat anti-conservation and in particular, anti-hunting, fishing and trapping entities.
During their July meeting, two presentations were made regarding the issue of wolf de-listing in Michigan. The first came from Al Ettenhofer, chairman of the UPSA Wildlife Committee and the second by Rory Mattson, UPSA Secretary.
Ettenhofer is the man who essentially started UP Whitetails Association, taking money out of his pocket on a risk venture that transitioned what was a social deer club into one of the largest single membership outdoors organizations in the history of the Upper Peninsula.
Along with three colleagues, Ettenhofer kicked off UP Whitetails in Delta County in 1988 and has since helped it grow into eight groups, all committed to being 100% UP in their interest and investment.
UP Whitetails has maintained credibility to a point. It reached Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) status during the negotiations regarding the 1836 Indian Inland Treaties.
During the UPSA meeting, Ettenhofer explained the research he had done regarding how the organization can perhaps now apply for and reach Amici on the pending court action on de-listing the gray wolf in the UP.
In discussions with Strom/Strom PC of Escanaba, it was felt the window of opportunity is prime for getting involved, as sportsmen and women here, utilizing the information and support of the combined UPSA membership toward the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the case now sits.
The Humane Society of the United States has for the sixth time filed litigation in their continued efforts to stop de-listing, all on technicalities which bind the hands of the USDA/Fish and Wildlife Services from enrolling their scheduled plan to de-list the wolves.
To date all scientific evidence has proven that the gray wolf has re-established and remains naturally sustained, meaning the population can now be controlled by natural resources managers. The State of Michigan DNRE is part of the Great Lakes wolf management region with Minnesota and Wisconsin and support the de-listing.
To begin the process of becoming Amicus Curiae, money has to be appropriated for legal counsel to complete research and then apply for status to the courts. Strom/Strom PC did offer their services and given their previous experience seem to be the most logical choice to represent UPSA.
Mattson, UPSA Secretary and Executive Director of the Delta Conservation District, proposed the creation of a Defense Fund for the purpose of paying for costs if and when UPSA initiates or joins others in legal action that supports conservation. It is action similar to that used in 1996 when Michigan battled the antis regarding bear hunting in Michigan, at that time raising a million dollars through various raffles, one including a camp as the grand prize.
Both ideas, gaining Amici and creating a Defense Fund, were unanimously supported by the voting membership of UPSA at the meeting.
Mattson took it one step further last week at the Western UP Citizens Advisory Council (UP/CAC) meeting in Negaunee, calling for a resolution of support for the MDNRE to join the lawsuit underway in Minnesota.
While the motion did not carry by a close (9-7) vote, Michigan DNRE Director Becky Humphries told the group Michigan wrote the Amici brief being used in the Minnesota/Wisconsin court case and as such, can not join the lawsuit.
Michigan is already covered in the case and it would require a separate filing, which would be redundant. If the UPSA does proceed with filing and/or achieving Amici, their support is appreciated.
The next step will be to establish a fund and accept contributions. Several organizations have committed annual support, some quarterly. Individual members also have contributed. Fund raisers are being planned and all monies raised will be kept in a separate fund to be used only for this purpose.
To make a contribution or obtain further information, contact UPSA at their website: www.upsportmensalliance.org
It is a sad state in this day and age of a weak economy that those who already pay the lion's share for natural resources management have to once again reach deep into their pockets to defend what has proven time and time again to be the best thing beyond what mother nature has to offer.
It is a disgrace to see an organization (HSUS) that titles itself as being humane based, not looking at the obvious but instead, disrupting what Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold and others laid down as the basis of natural resources conservation. It appears they do so just to keep themselves employed.
I believe it is time for the general public to also support the efforts of UPSA and make a contribution so that if not themselves, a friend or family member can continue the outdoors heritage so revered here in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.