The great state of Michigan is known for both hunting and fishing. The Great Lakes are some of the best places to fish, and Michigan’s woods are rife with deer. However, Michigan’s long tradition of hunting and fishing might be coming to an end, and that could be disastrous for the state.
Hunting and Fishing in Michigan
Michigan earns more than $5 billion each year through hunting and fishing activities as well as revenues earned in hunting and fishing stores. Hunting, on its own, generates more than $2 billion for the state and employs 34,000 people. The state government allocates part of these earnings into conservation efforts, providing more than $60 million annually into wildlife conservation and the protection of natural resources. Michigan’s environmental efforts are received well by residents, and 87 percent of all residents participate in some form of outdoor activities.
Hunting in Decline
Hunting in Michigan might be facing problems as older generations are retiring from their hunting activities. The younger generations are not as enthusiastic about hunting, and the number of active hunters could suffer a steep decline by 2035. A reduction in hunting activities will affect the state’s economy, reducing revenues and the amount of money spent on conservation efforts.
Thousands of people who rely on hunting and other related activities will have their jobs and livelihoods negatively affected. Statewide ecology will change—and not for the better. Uncontrolled deer population can lead to changes in ecology due to vegetation loss and a rampant spread of diseases. It will also lead to an increase in road accidents. Last year alone, Michigan had more than 50,000 accidents involving deer, leading to 1,112 injuries and 16 deaths.
Asian Carp Threaten the Great Lakes
Fishing is thriving in Michigan and the Great Lakes, but things can turn dire because of the presence of Asian carp. These invasive species are ravenous eaters that can consume 20 to 40 percent of their body weight in plankton. These fish weigh an average of 50 lbs and can grow as heavy as 110 lbs. They reproduce at a fantastic rate, producing thousands of eggs per year. Asian carp are known to dominate large areas, pushing out native fish or significantly reducing their population. Michigan, Illinois, the federal government, and various other states are spending $778 million on efforts to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
Sports fishing and other fishing-related industries in the Great Lakes earn more than $7 billion annually, but these numbers could plunge once Asian carp start affecting the ecology. Michigan has led various efforts to stop these invasive fish, one of which is the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp.
Grim Outlooks Can Be Changed
Though Michigan’s hunting and fishing problems seem bleak, the future is yet to be determined. Illinois has been successful in reducing the Asian carp population by 93 percent, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on the job to keep invasive fish away from the Great Lakes. The younger generation can be taught about the benefits of hunting, how it helps the whole state, and how it is ultimately beneficial to the deer species. Michigan has a long tradition of hunting and fishing, and hopefully, that tradition will continue for more generations to come.