MI: Granholm paves way for state moose hunt

Lansing — Attention hunters: A moose hunt may be coming to a
site near you.

Michigan moved a step closer to adding even more diversity to
its in-state hunting opportunities when Gov. Jennifer Granholm
signed a bill late last month supporting a first-ever moose-hunting
season in the state.

The legislation does not mean moose hunting is imminent, only
that it allows for the creation of an advisory council to determine
the parameters toward reaching a sustainable hunt.

“We’re probably at least a year away,” Michigan United
Conservation Club Executive Director Erin McDonough told Michigan
Outdoor News. “But once Senate Bill 1013 is signed, moose will join
elk not only in gracing our state’s Great Seal, but hopefully in
becoming the next great wildlife conservation success story in
Michigan through sound, scientific management practices.

“One of the keys will be to use the scientific studies and look
to the right seasons to achieve a sustainable hunt.”

State Sen. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, and state Rep. Joel
Sheltrown, D-West Branch, were the prominent supporters of the
legislation, citing conservation and economics as two key
components in striving to keep Michigan an outdoorsman’s
paradise.

“It’s just another reason to come to Michigan and enjoy the
outdoors,” Allen said. “With this, Michigan becomes another
destination. Look at the impact the elk hunt has had on little
communities inside the state.

“We don’t know the number to be hunted legally, yet. It could be
anywhere from one to 15. It’s going to depend what comes out in the
report,” he said.

Allen’s bill authorizes the state Natural Resources Commission
to design a science-based, limited moose-hunting season.

According to the Michigan DNRE Wildlife Division, the state’s
moose population outside of Isle Royale resides entirely in the
Upper Peninsula. Statistics show approximately 500 to 750 moose
roam the U.P., and although it is difficult to predict where moose
might be spotted on any given day, there are three primary
locations where visitors would do well in beginning their quest.
According to the DNRE, the center of moose country in the western
half of the U.P. is Van Riper State Park. In the eastern section,
Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Seney National Wildlife Refuge
offer the best opportunities. Newberry, located in the central part
of the U.P., calls itself the Official Moose Capital of
Michigan.

In 1985 and 1987, the DNR captured 59 moose in Algonquin
Provincial Park in Ontario and all were released shortly thereafter
in Marquette County, north of Van Riper State Park. That small herd
has been growing steadily and expanding its range throughout the
U.P.

The Wildlife Division suggests the bill would allow Michigan to
support a limited license hunt for approximately 12 to 15 moose
annually without harming the sustainable population. In addition,
the seven-member Moose Hunting Advisory Council –  appointed by the
DNRE director, leaders of both the House and Senate and a
representative of Native American tribes – would research and offer
additional recommendations to improve the season after the initial
year.

Prior to Granholm’s signature on the bill, a group of scientists
mounted an eleventh-hour appeal to derail the legislation, citing
the unknown of specifics dealing with the size of the herd and its
long-term prospects for survival as its chief concerns.

Rolf Peterson, a Michigan Tech University moose expert who has
ben studying the wolf/moose dynamics on Isle Royale for better than
40 years, led a panel of 13 biologists from Michigan universities
urging Granholm to veto the bill.

Included in a letter drafted by the scientists was their belief
that moose are “seriously challenged by ecological conditions,” and
“decisions about whether or how to hunt moose in Michigan should be
delayed until an independent scientific panel comprised of
appropriate experts evaluates the relevant issues.”

A moose-hunting license likely would cost $100, similar to
Michigan’s elk license fee.

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