MI: DNR considers increasing antlerless tag limit

Lansing – Deer hunters in the Upper Peninsula (Zone 1) and
northern Lower Peninsula (Zone 2) would be able to purchase up to
five antlerless deer permits per year under a proposal being
considered by the state Natural Resources Commission. The proposal
also asks the NRC to incorporate Deer Management Unit 041 (Kent
County) into the multi-county antlerless permit DMU in southern
Michigan known as DMU 486; and to eliminate the chronic wasting
disease surveillance zone in DMU 041.

The proposal was presented to the commission for information at its
meeting last week in Lansing. It will be up for action at the May
12 NRC meeting at the Mott Community College Regional Tech Center
in Flint. Public comment is being accepted until that time.

“We had a request from our field staff in the northern zones to
make changes,” DNR deer specialist Brent Rudolph told Michigan
Outdoor News. “We’ve heard from landowners who haven’t been able to
get enough antlerless licenses to control deer abundance. A lot of
it is from people trying to manage habitat and timber. The deer are
having an impact on their ability to regenerate cuttings.”

According to a memo the DNR Wildlife Division presented to the NRC,
antlerless license quotas are used to restrict the number of
antlerless deer killed in each DMU. Regardless of the deer
population in each DMU relative to population goals, some
individual landowners have objectives for managing local numbers or
impacts of deer. In many instances, overbrowsing of cuttings by
white-tailed deer has a negative impact on regeneration.

Increasing the limit of antlerless permits an individual may
purchase from two to five, according to the memo, would allow these
landowners to address their local concerns without influencing the
overall take within the DMU.

“If we bump it up to five, we won’t have to go through the
administrative process to give them management assistance permits
(DMAP),” Rudolph said.

The five-permit limit would only be valid in DMUs that have
leftover antlerless permits. In DMUs in which no antlerless permits
are available, the proposal would have no impact.

The daily purchase limit would remain two, and the season limit
would be five.

Rudolph said the DNR will present a list of DMUs proposed to be
open to antlerless hunting at the May NRC meeting, and that harvest
quotas will be addressed in June.

“We’re not anticipating any drastic changes in DMUs open for
antlerless hunting or in quotas,” he said.

CWD Surveillance Zone

When CWD was discovered in a doe in a high-fence deer farm in Kent
County in 2008, the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for
Chronic Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and Privately-Owned/Captive
Cervids was immediately implemented.

The plan called for the establishment of a CWD Surveillance Zone in
the county where the diseased deer was found. It mandated that all
hunter-killed deer in the CWD Surveillance Zone be tested for three
years.

“We have not found CWD in three years of testing, so there is no
need for continued testing,” Rudolph told the commission. “We’re
recommending that we incorporate Kent County into DMU 486.”

DNR veterinarian Dr. Steven Schmitt told commissioners the
probability of CWD being present in Michigan’s free-ranging
white-tailed deer herd is low.

“There still could be a positive animal out there, but we feel
pretty good there is not,” he said.

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