NRC OKs changes to bear-hunting regs

Lansing – The state Natural Resources Commission, at its monthly
meeting last week in Lansing, passed several regulation changes for
the 2009 bear-hunting season.

Among the new rules is a 5-day “quiet” period, a bait-only day
in the Lower Peninsula, and an early start to the dog-training
season. The commission also approved a recommendation on license
quotas that reduces the statewide allotment by about 12 percent
from last year.

The commission considered three hunt structure options for the
Red Oak Bear Management Unit in the northern Lower Peninsula, and
opted to retain the present hunt structure, but to launch a study
of bear density and hunter success in Red Oak.

In a memo to the commission, the DNR explained that it has
received comments from hunters about high bear density in a portion
of the Red Oak BMU known as “club country.” There also has been
concern that significantly reducing the number of bears in club
country – the White Oak sub-unit of Red Oak BMU – may impact
hunting opportunities in other parts of Red Oak. The two options
that were not approved both included regulations aimed at
increasing the bear harvest specifically in the White Oak area.

The option that was approved – to retain the present structure –
was the unanimous recommendation of the Bear Consultation Team.

“I’m very satisfied with the decision,” said Mike Thorman, a
member of the BCT, which was made up of representatives of 18
groups with an interest in black bear management. “It was the right
thing for the commission to do. They followed the recommendation of
the DNR, which followed the recommendation of the bear consultation
team.”

In lieu of added hunting pressure in the White Oak area, the DNR
will conduct a study of success ratios in that area and compare
them with the success rates in the rest of the Red Oak BMU, which
runs about 22 percent.

“We’ll do research and survey work in White Oak to get some
results on success rates,” commissioner John Madigan said.

According to Adam Bump, DNR bear specialist, 44 percent of those
who hunted in the White Oak area last year already have been
surveyed. He said the department will begin surveying the remaining
56 percent.

“This year, we’ll survey 100 percent of the hunters in Red Oak
to see what the success ratios are,” he added.

The commission approved a statewide, five-day quiet period
before opening day of the bear season, meaning no bear-hound
training will be allowed. To compensate for the lost training time,
the dog-training season will begin July 8. In the past,
dog-training season was closed April 15 through July 15.

“The intent of this (closed) period has been to reduce the
potential impacts on young animals,” the DNR wrote in the memo.
“Many states allow spring dog training and have not seen negative
effects on wildlife populations. To retain similar hound training
and recreational opportunities, we recommend that dog training on
wild animals be allowed from July 8 through April 14.”

In addition, the first day of the bear season in the Lower
Peninsula will be reserved for bait hunters only, and the season
will be extended two days for hound-hunting only.

The commission approved a regulation that will maintain the
restriction of three bait stations per hunter, and limit the total
number of baits any individual can establish or maintain to 12.

The commission also approved a decrease in licenses for the 2009
season, calling for a total license quota of 11,473, a reduction of
1,520 from last year’s total of 12,993. Part of the reduction is
the result of the potential bear harvest by tribal members, who are
allowed an additional 10 percent of the number of licenses
available from in state.

The DNR will issue a total of 9,563 permits this year in the
Upper Peninsula, including 680 in the Amasa BMU, 2,340 in Baraga,
1,580 in Bergland, 1,180 in Carney, three on Drummond Island, 1,470
in Gwinn, and 2,310 in Newberry.

In the northern Lower Peninsula, a total of 1,910 tags will be
available, including 60 in the Baldwin BMU, 150 in Gladwin, and
1,700 in Red Oak.

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