Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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‘Deer team’ makes its pitch to DNR

Lansing – Limiting to one the number of bucks a hunter can kill,
in areas where the DNR believes the antlerless deer harvest is not
achieving its goal, is one of some 44 recommendations presented in
a report to the DNR by the Michigan Deer Advisory Team. Limiting
the buck harvest, the DAT said, could help increase the antlerless
harvest.

The DNR’s current deer management plan began in 2006 and expires
in 2010. In May of 2008, the DNR and Michigan United Conservation
Clubs formed a Deer Planing Partnership. The two joined efforts to
produce a public deer symposium in Sept. 2008 in Mount Pleasant,
and in October 2008 assembled the Michigan Deer Advisory Team.

“We’re not looking to reinvent deer management; we want to
adjust it, tweak it,” Tom Barnes, a DAT member representing the
Michigan Association of Timbermen, told the Natural Resources
Commission’s Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries at a recent
meeting in Lansing. “We want a healthy, balanced deer population
that is not detrimental to the habitat.”

The recommendations were made in an effort to assist the DNR in
formulating a deer management plan, not as mandates to deer
management direction.

In explaining the intent of the recommendations, Amy Spray,
MUCC’s resource policy specialist and a member of the DAT, said,
“We want the DNR to evaluate what it is doing, and if it’s not
working, here are some recommendations.”

The DAT is composed of 24 members representing state and federal
agencies (9), private clubs and organizations (6), and conservation
groups (9), including MUCC, Michigan United Deer Hunters, Michigan
Resource Stewards, United Sportsmens Alliance, U.P. Whitetails/U.P.
Sportsmens Alliance, Michigan Longbow Association, Quality Deer
Management Association, Commemorative Bucks of Michigan, and the
Michigan Bowhunters Association.

“The DNR recognizes that the citizens of Michigan have an
interest and stake in the future of deer management and should have
an opportunity to express their points of view,” the DAT_wrote in
its report. “Our membership represents diverse stakeholder
viewpoints, including 24 agencies and organizations that represent
environmental and ecological interests, hunting interests,
agricultural and forestry interests, public safety interests, and
private land interests.”

The DNR is expected to have a draft deer management plan
completed in January, and regional open houses will be scheduled in
February and March to present the plan to the public. A new deer
management plan will be presented to the state Natural Resources
Commission for information and public comment in April 2010.

Some of the other recommendations in the report include:

n Framework of deer management should be standardized statewide.
Interpretation and implementation from results of the framework
should address specific geographic areas and issues;

n Evaluate current and potential methods and input for improving
population assessments;

n Recognize that deer hunting is more than a deer population
management tool. It is a means to realize social, cultural,
economic, and spiritual values;

n Determine if the decreasing number of deer hunters is having
an impact on achieving deer population goals. If so, determine the
primary factor(s) causing the decline and facilitate cooperation
among non-governmental organizations and the hunting community to
develop programs targeted toward hunter retention and
recruitment;

n Increase private land access through hunting incentive
programs;

n Provide networking opportunities for private landowners and
hunters;

n Add flexibility to licenses to encourage the harvest of
antlerless deer where needed;

n Implement deer habitat improvement projects on public
land;

n Create educational material on urban/suburban deer issues;

n Maintain a herd with a balanced age distribution and sex
ratio, good physical condition, and reproduction.

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