Changes minimal for ’10 bear-hunting regulations

Lansing – Bear hunters breathed a collective sigh of relief, at
least for now, when the NRC earlier this month decided not to
pursue a proposal that would change the way the DNRE distributes a
limited number of bear permits each year.

The commission voted unanimously on April 8 to accept the DNRE’s
proposal to reduce license numbers for the 2010 season, and opted
to form another citizens work group to take another look at
nuisance bear issues and private-land bear management.

A total of 11,742 licenses will be available for the 2010
bear-hunting season, including 10,357 for hunts in the Upper
Peninsula and 1,385 in the Lower. That’s a reduction of 605 permits
– all in the U.P. – compared with 2009.

“We’re not going to rush into making changes,” said John
Madigan, who chairs the NRC’s Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. “We
want to look at the science and give everyone the opportunity to
speak to the issues, but the work group recommendations and NRC
action will occur yet this year.”

Bear hunters across the state grew concerned when the
NRC_requested two options for bear permit allocation at its meeting
earlier this month in Lansing.

Option 1 would have created general (public and private land)
and private-land-only bear licenses. The two different licenses
would have been available for each hunt period in each bear
management unit. One license would have been valid on private land
only, the general license, valid on both public and private lands.
Commercial Forest lands would have been considered public lands.
The preference point system would remain intact and hunters would
have had to compete with other hunters applying for the same
license type in their hunt period of choice.

The main reason for this option stems from a perceived high bear
density in the area of the Red Oak Bear Management Unit commonly
known as “club country.”

Option 2 called for no changes in the current bear management

“I want to support Option 2, with the caveat that we form a work
group of 20 people to look at two specific issues: nuisance bears
and private-land (bear) management,” Madigan told the

He said NRC chairman Keith Charters, the Michigan United
Conservation Clubs, and another individual yet to be named, would
work together to form the work group. The group would then meet
prior to NRC meetings for the next six months and present a formal
proposal, if deemed necessary, to the commission later this

The Bear Consultation Team, a citizens committee convened by the
DNRE to help it develop a long-term bear management plan, made
recommendations to the DNRE that were incorporated into that
management plan, which was signed by DNRE Director Becky Humphries
last year. Members of the BCT are upset that another citizens
committee is being formed to redo what it has already

“We think additional meetings are a terrible waste of time,”
Bill Walker, a director for the Michigan Bear Hunters Association
told Michigan Outdoor News. “We feel these issues were thoroughly
and extensively discussed by the Bear Consultation Team. Club
country was represented on the BCT, and they agreed with our
recommendations, which were incorporated into the Bear Management

“The Bear Management Plan was taken to the public in five
meetings across the state and everyone was in agreement with it,”
he said. “We see no reason whatsoever to bring up these issues
again, less than a year later. To ask citizens to come together for
six more meetings, at their own expense, is ridiculous.

“What this comes down to is a couple commissioners who didn’t
get their way. This is not a good-faith effort about bear

“If there are meetings, we certainly want to be included, but we
don’t think additional meetings are necessary,” Walker said.

Mike Thorman, another member of the BCT and a director for the
Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, agrees with Walker’s

“Of course, we’re glad that Option 2 was supported for this
year, but we’re very concerned about why we’re forming another
committee to discuss issues the Bear Consultation Team already
discussed at length and agreed upon,” Thorman told MON.

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