Deer hunters voice concerns to the NRC

By Bill
Parker
Editor

Lansing — A petition, signed by more than 6,000 disgruntled deer
hunters, was to be presented to the state Natural Resources
Commission at its monthly meeting last week in Lansing.

“What we hope to accomplish is to show the NRC the level of
discontent among hunters,” said state Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West
Branch, who was to present the petition. “We want to get them to
understand that hunters do not believe that the DNR’s deer counts
are correct, and that the deer numbers in northern Michigan are too
low.”

The petition is the result of an effort by Bob and Judy McReavy,
who own a hunting camp in Nestor Township in Roscommon County.
After what they considered dismal hunting the past few years, Bob
McReavy began talking to other hunters in the area and found they
were experiencing similar results. He started a petition drive in
an effort to get the DNR to reduce the number of antlerless deer
permits issued in northern Michigan. McReavy contacted Rep.
Sheltrown, who took over the petition drive earlier this year.

“I’m not trying to pick a fight with the DNR, but I think they
need to realize there is a problem,” Sheltrown told Michigan
Outdoor News. “I have a responsibility to represent the people.

“Deer hunting has declined substantially in the last five years.
I’m getting calls from people in the U.P., from people in Monroe,
from Ted Nugent, you name it. Everyone I talk to is quite
concerned.”

Sheltrown said there are other indicators that suggest deer
numbers are down.

“A state policeman told me car/deer accidents are down about 50
percent in northern Michigan,” Sheltrown said. “Even farmers are
saying they’re not seeing as many deer. My cousin owns a farm in
northern Michigan. He doesn’t hunt, but even he admits that deer
numbers are down. I think the DNR has overreacted. They have made
mistakes before. They’re human. But let’s make this one right.”

It’s not just deer hunters who are concerned with the low deer
numbers. Local businesses, which used to thrive during the fall
hunting season, also are feeling the pinch.

“We’ve only owned the business for two years, but we understand
it used to be full for deer season,”said Darcia Little, owner of
the Tee Pee Hotel and Restaurant in Roscommon. “We do get hunters,
but we’re not full for the (firearms deer) hunting season. We get
hunters for the first week, but if they don’t see any deer, like
last year, there’s no one around for the second week.”

Lois Byrd, executive director of the Higgins Lake/Roscommon
Chamber of Commerce, also has seen a decline in hunter numbers, but
doesn’t attribute it solely to low deer numbers.

“Business (during deer season) has dropped off around here, but
I think it’s for several reasons. It’s not just because of low deer
numbers, but also because of high gas prices,” she said. “We do get
hunters every year, but not nearly as many as we used to have.”

Sheltrown is concerned about the loss of business.

“We have a tourism-based economy in the northern Lower
Peninsula. We don’t have a lot of manufacturing up here,” he said.
“I talk to business owners almost every day and they tell me
business is down during hunting season. If hunters don’t see deer,
they don’t come back to hunt. It’s tough enough with the high gas
prices.”

Sheltrown said there are about 6,500 signatures on the petition,
which asks the DNR to reduce the number of antlerless permits
issued in northern Michigan until the herd has been restored.

“I’m trying to avoid any type of legislative solution,”
Sheltrown said. “I’m trying to work within the framework of the
NRC. I think they realize there is a problem.”

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