GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department Natural of Resources wants to add to the list of animals that are considered a nuisance, allowing property owners to get rid of them without a permit.
The DNR allows landowners the killing or trapping of some ‘nuisance’ animals without a permit if they are causing or are about to cause damage to crops, livestock or property. Currently, the list of nuisance animals includes woodchucks, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes.
Citing an increase in nuisance and damage complaints, the Michigan DNR is proposing to the Natural Resources Commission that the list be expanded to include beavers, cottontail rabbits, opossums, weasels, muskrats, fox squirrels, gray squirrels, red squirrels, and ground squirrels when they are doing or are physically present where it could imminently cause damage.
The DNR’s furbearers workgroup reviewed the recommendations, but not everyone is welcoming the potential change.
“We’re most concerned about the animals because if we’re not speaking up for them, who is?” said Thomas Gilpin, a member of the Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus, which represents the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi tribes.
In addition to concerns about some animals being killed freely, he says some tribal groups are named after species that the proposal would affect.
“So when you start talking about that, you’re really attacking some of the heart and the culture of the Anishinaabe people and Indigenous people really everywhere,” Gilpin said.
Gilpin, who was at the meeting when the changes were introduced to the commission, hopes a final decision will be delayed. He said all animals have value and humans should work to coexist with them.
“Every animal has a part to play in the balance of nature and I think the more effort we can make to restore that balance, I think the better off the planet and all of us will be,” Gilpin said.
Gilpin also told News 8 he believes licensed animal control officers are best suited to take care of animals that are in unwanted places.
The Natural Resources Commission will meet next on May 11.