Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

State begins update of its bear plan

Cadillac, Mich. – Should the DNR standardize its bear
regulations across both peninsulas? Are the sizes and boundaries of
the state’s 10 bear management units adequate for proper management
of the species? Should there be a quiet period before the
bear-hunting season begins in the Lower Peninsula, like there is in
the U.P?

These are some of the issues facing wildlife biologists charged
with managing the state’s bear population – and issues about which
the DNR wants public input.

The DNR, with assistance from Michigan State University
Extension, recently held a series of “bear issue scoping meetings”
at five locations across the state, including Crystal Falls and
Newberry in the U.P., and Hillman, Cadillac, and Lansing in the
Lower Peninsula. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss bear
issues and concerns with anyone interested in bear management in
Michigan. They also marked the beginning of a larger process of
updating Michigan’s black bear management plan.

“We really want to know what your issues and concerns are,”_MSU
Extension’s Jordan Burroughs told the group gathered at the Carl T.
Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac.

Public comments from all five meetings, as well as written
comments received by the DNR, will be recorded and evaluated, then
presented to a bear management work group composed of individuals
from stakeholder groups with an interest in bear management in
Michigan. That group will decide what, if any, changes should be
made to the state’s bear management plan.

The updated plan will then be released to the public for
additional comment, amended if necessary, then presented to the
Natural Resources Commission and the DNR director for approval. The
draft plan is expected to be available by the spring of 2009.

Biologists estimate Michigan has a bear population of between
15,000 and 19,000 animals, with about 90 percent of them living in
the Upper Peninsula. The DNR_receives more than 50,000 bear permit
applications each year and issues about 12,000 permits. Hunters
have killed an average of 2,200 black bears each year since
2000.

Those attending the Cadillac meeting had a variety of concerns,
but generally approved of the meetings and the process being used
to update the management plan.

“I think this is a good idea. They’re trying to get the public
involved and addressing the concerns people have,” said Tim
Dusterwinkle, of Big Rapids, a houndsman and board member of the
Michigan Bear Hunters Association.

Cadillac resident Rob Nixon, a bait hunter and bear guide,
agreed: “I think it’s the best thing they could do, as long as they
listen to the people. It’s a step in the right direction.
Everything is changing; subdivisions are popping up, habitat is
changing. The ways of managing bears are going to change, too. They
need to hear from the public, both hunters and non-hunters.”

Both hunters and non-hunters were represented at the Cadillac
meeting, and each voiced different issues of concern. Non-hunting
concerns ranged from damage to standing crops, bird feeders and bee
hives, to concern for personal safety while walking in bear country
and bears wandering into residential areas. Hunting concerns ranged
from reducing hunter conflicts between baiters and houndsmen and
instituting a “quiet period” in the Lower Peninsula, to the number
of permits being issued in some BMUs and moving up the timetable
for the bear permit application period.

“These meetings are an important first step in creating a bear
management plan that includes the opinions of all Michigan
citizens,” Adam Bump, the DNR’s bear specialist, said in a press
release.

Individuals who were unable to attend one of the meetings may
submit written comments via e-mail or U.S. mail. Send comments to:
Adam Bump, DNR Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 30444, Lansing, MI 48909
or dnr-wld-wild@michigan.gov.

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