MI Hunting Panel Appointee Doesn't Hunt

It helps if the people with oversight over a state’s hunting regulations are, you know, hunters. While it’s not absolutely essential, it’s also important to understand the needs of hunters and fishers so that can be balanced as needed against other potential needs. That’s usually a whole lot easier to do when you’re an actual hunter.

In Michigan, an appointee to such a commission admits he doesn’t hunt and his answers don’t give anyone warm, fuzzy feelings.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointee to a state commission that regulates hunting and fishing said Thursday that he made a “personal decision” decades ago that “killing things was not for me.”

George Heartwell, the former mayor of Grand Rapids, made the comments during a Michigan Senate Advice and Consent Committee hearing where senators vetted him for his new potential position as chairman of the Natural Resources Commission.

While Heartwell said hunting is part of the state’s heritage and he believes in U.S. citizens’ right to bear arms, Republican senators focused multiple questions on the fact that he hasn’t hunted for about 35 years.

“It was a personal decision,” Heartwell told the committee. “It was not intended, nor would I want it to be read today, as a judgment on others who hunt. I support hunting. But it wasn’t right for me.

After deciding to go to theological seminary in his 30s, Heartwell said he made a “sudden” decision to stop hunting and he gave his firearms to a business partner.

I’m sorry, but that sounds fishy (no pun intended).

Sudden decisions tend to have a catalyst. That suggests that he doesn’t just feel hunting is wrong for him, but that he might have some kind of moral stance against hunting. Such a person in that particular role, regardless of what he says now, could have far-reaching ramifications for the Michigan outdoor community.

Plus, what the hell is the governor doing trying to appoint someone to the commission who really doesn’t seem to have any interest in the topic?

It should be noted, though, that Heartwell also is opposed by the NRA, of all groups.

Heartwell’s appointment to the Natural Resources Commission, which has the power to designate game species, has been contentious since Whitmer announced it on Feb. 7. The Natural Rifle Association has criticized Heartwell, who supported banning guns from city buildings when he was mayor of Grand Rapids.

Yet he also said he believes in the Second Amendment.

In other words, he’s lied in one instance. There’s zero reason to believe he didn’t lie elsewhere.

The Michigan Senate was right to question him like they have. My hope is that they reject him and force the governor to find a new appointee, someone without this kind of anti-gun and potentially anti-hunting baggage hanging around their neck. The people of Michigan deserve better than someone who suddenly gave up hunting completely and even gave his guns away.

Frankly, Heartwell needs to come up with a better explanation for how that happened, because nothing he’s saying rings true.