Traveling exhibit, photo contest highlight ‘Michigan Wildlife Conservation Month’

Belle Isle, Stony Creek to host exhibit

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published July 13, 2022


METRO DETROIT — July is Wildlife Conservation Month in Michigan, and the Michigan Wildlife Council is celebrating by hosting a few special activities for the public to enjoy.

The council’s new “Conservation Takes Flight” exhibit — which details four Michigan ecosystems, showcasing a different species of bird that makes each its habitat — made its debut at the Detroit Kite Festival on Belle Isle July 10. It will be on display at two remaining festivals this summer — including the Stony Creek Metropark Art Fair July 23-24 and the Belle Isle Art Fair Aug. 6-7.

Exhibit-goers, organizers say, will learn about the conservation activities that help keep the featured birds thriving in the state — including the Kirtland’s warbler of the coniferous forest, the American woodcock of the deciduous forest, the pheasant of the grasslands and the osprey of the wetlands.

Mark Loeb, of Integrity Shows, which is organizing the Stony Creek Metropark Art Fair, said much of the focus of the art fair — including the Conservation Takes Flight Exhibit — is the intersection between art and nature.

“This exhibit and effort seems like a natural fit,” he said in an email. “We want people to come out to enjoy the beauty and to take home memories and artwork that will help them to maintain joy throughout the year.”

Michigan Wildlife Council Chair Nick Buggia said the exhibit is an opportunity to talk about birds, like the osprey, and the unique habitat needs they have and the success the Michigan Wildlife Council has had in bringing osprey, bald eagles and other birds back to Michigan.

“We’re just trying to tell the story of how hunters and anglers have helped with the comeback or the growth of some of these bird populations in Michigan,” Buggia said. “Twenty or 30 years ago, they might not have been something you would see often, but now it’s not uncommon to go to Belle Isle or drive down the road and see an osprey or a bald eagle …  and people are seeing them due to the conservation efforts funded by hunting and fishing licenses.”

Hunting and fishing play an important role in conservation, Buggia explained.

“A lot of people don’t understand that the vast majority of conservation funding, not only in Michigan, but across the country, is funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses,” he said. “There is kind of a misconception out there, and sometimes hunters or anglers can be labeled as the bad guys, but in reality, they are helping to manage the different wildlife populations so that they are sustainable, that there is enough food on the landscape for all the different species, and to help prevent diseases and things like that.”

The sale of hunting and fishing licenses, Buggia added, not only helps fund the conservation of game species, but also nongame species like butterflies, bees and other pollinators; ospreys; the Kirtland’s warbler; and many other animals.

July 1 marked the 84th anniversary of the effective date for the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which ensured hunting equipment purchases would fund wildlife management projects nationwide.

State officials say licenses purchased by anglers and hunters generated over $66 million for the Michigan Game and Fish Protection Fund in 2021, which is the DNR’s largest revenue source and is critical to its conservation work. The sale of hunting and fishing equipment raised an additional $32 million to support wildlife and natural resource management.

Along with funding conservation, Buggia said, the money spent every year on hunting and fishing in Michigan provides huge economic benefits in every region of the state. According to a 2019 study released by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs in partnership with Michigan State University, hunting and fishing have a combined $11.2 billion economic impact on Michigan and provide an estimated 171,000 jobs, making the combination of activities one of the state’s top 10 job-creation industries.

The Michigan Wildlife Council is also sponsoring an outdoor photo contest this month to showcase the best of the state’s natural beauty.

“We’re just trying to encourage people — whether they are walking down the RiverWalk in Detroit or are out at a park enjoying the outdoors — to snap a photo and send it in to share with everybody what they enjoy doing outside,” Buggia said.

Participants can capture their special moment in Michigan’s scenic outdoors and submit it for a chance to win a $300 Visa gift card. The online contest runs through July 30, and submission details and information regarding contest rules are available at

The council, according to Buggia, is excited for the opportunity to engage with people this summer and reinforce that whether you hunt, fish or enjoy other activities like bird-watching, hiking, camping or kayaking, the state’s outdoor spaces connect everyone, and conservation is the common link.

More information about the Michigan Wildlife Council, visit