Spinning-wing decoys banned at Shiawassee

Lansing – The state Natural Resource Commission voted earlier
this month to ban the use of spinning-wing decoys at the Shiawassee
River State Game Area, but postponed until its July 8 meeting a
vote on whether or not to impose antler point restrictions in the
TB_Zone. The commission also approved opening Fish Point and
Nayanquing Point managed wildlife areas for the late antlerless
deer season.

Spinning-wing decoys

The commission voted unanimously to ban the use of spinning-wing
decoys at the Shiawassee River SGA only, for a three-year test
period.

Michigan’s managed waterfowl areas are developed mainly to
provide quality waterfowl habitat and waterfowl hunting
opportunities. Hunting of other species is allowed when it doesn’t
interfere with waterfowl and waterfowl hunting.

The Shiawassee Flats Citizens and Hunters Association developed
the proposal to ban the use of spinning-wing decoys due to concerns
from its members that their use was sometimes negatively affecting
the hunting experiences of other hunters using the same fields.

“The whole rationale behind this proposal is that when you’re in
a tight area like a managed crop field, there might be seven or
eight groups of hunters out there,” Dan Dykstra, a spokesperson for
the Shiawassee Flats Citizens and Hunters Association told Michigan
Outdoor News. “If there is one person using a spinning-wing decoy
wrong it can scare the birds away from the whole field.

“It tends to send the birds high,” he said, “which leads to more
sky busting and conflicts, which hurt everyone.”

DNRE Wildlife Division acknowledges that this is a social issue
rather than a biological issue and said it will conduct a
three-year evaluation of the ban.

“Research has not shown a negative biological impact (increased
harvest rates) from the use of spinning-wing decoys,”_the
DNRE_wrote in a memo to the commission. “Therefore, the decision on
the SWD_use primarily deals with social impacts such as negative
hunting experiences, fair chase, and disturbance issues.”

The DNRE_will conduct hunter opinion surveys at the Shiawassee
River SGA beginning with the 2010-11 waterfowl season.

“Obviously, there is some disagreement,”_Dykstra said. “Some
people feel spinning-wing decoys work all the time and aren’t
impacting others,”_which is why the DNRE_is testing the ban for a
limited period only.

Deer hunting changes

The NRC_approved a proposal to move the application deadline for
deer hunts at the Shiawassee River State Game Area from Sept. 24 to
Aug. 15 to give DNRE_personnel additional time to process
applications.

It also voted to allow antlerless deer hunting at Nayanquing
Point and Fish Point managed waterfowl areas during the late
antlerless firearms season in an effort to trim deer numbers there.
Hunting will be by special permit only, from the first Monday
following the third Saturday in December to Jan. 1,

“Deer numbers at these two areas have been increasing in recent
years and damage to crops planted to attract waterfowl and hide
waterfowl hunters has been significant,”_the DNRE_wrote in a memo
to the commission. “Current archery and muzzleloader hunting
opportunities have not been effective at reducing deer numbers. The
timing of a late December antlerless deer hunt will not interfere
with waterfowl hunting or cause disturbance to waterfowl on these
areas.”

Antler point restrictions

A vote on the proposal to implement antler point restrictions in
six counties in the northeastern Lower Peninsula was postponed
until the July 8 NRC_meeting so additional public comment can be
taken. The DNRE_has planned a pair of public informational meetings
to address the issue.

The Northeast Lower Peninsula Agriculture and Natural Resource
Stewardship Cooperative presented the DNRE with a pilot project
developed to help further reduce the prevalence rate of TB in Deer
Management Unit 487 (Presque Isle, Montmorency, Alpena, Oscoda,
Alcona and Iosco counties), commonly known as the TB_Zone.

State veterinarians say the prevalence rate (the number of
infected animals per 100 tested) has flattened out and fear that
the current TB eradication strategy has reached a plateau.

In an effort to increase the harvest of antlerless deer in DMU
487, which game managers hope will reduce the prevalence rate, the
cooperative made several recommendations to the hunting and
agricultural communities. The plan asked the DNRE_to allow hunters
in DMU 487 to use a firearms license or a combo license to tag an
antlerless deer, and to impose an antler point restriction of at
least three points on one side in order for a buck to be legal.

The license use recommendation was approved by the NRC_at its
May meeting in Lansing.

Because of hunter concerns over the APR, the DNRE is holding
informational public meetings in DMU 487 to explain the science
behind the proposal and what they hope it will accomplish.

Meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, and 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 23.

At press time meeting locations were still being determined for
the Alpena and Mio areas. Call (517) 373-1263 and press 0 for
updates on the location of the meetings.

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