Michigan DNR requests antlerless-permit reduction for 2014

Lansing — State wildlife officials are again requesting a significant cut in the number of antlerless deer permits available for the 2014 hunting seasons. The elimination of 59,055 permits from the 2013 total continues a recent trend of annual reductions in antlerless permits.

DNR Wildlife Division officials are asking the Natural Resources Commission to make available 494,900 antlerless permits (59,900 public land permits and 435,000 private land permits) statewide for the fall hunting season. That number is significantly lower than recent allocations of  773,500 in 2010, 754,700 in 2011, 708,650 in 2012 and 553,950 last year.

The reductions are the result of back-to-back severe winters in the northern regions of the state, lingering impacts of repeated outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in the southwest region, and stabilized or declining deer numbers throughout the rest of the state.

“The recommended decreases reflect a response to severe winter conditions that are expected to reduce deer populations in many areas within Michigan’s northern regions (particularly the U.P.), and that deer population estimates and indices in both southern regions have stabilized or declined over approximately the past decade,” the DNR wrote in a memo to the commission. “Sufficient antlerless licenses would still be offered to allow for recreational opportunity at a sustainable level of harvest and to provide for harvest to address concerns over agricultural damage and forest regeneration.”

Under the proposal, three deer management units (DMUs) that had antlerless permits available last year would have no permits for the 2014 season. Permits would be eliminated in LaBranch (DMU 255), Crystal Falls (DMU 022), and Bay de Noc (DMU 121) in the south-central U.P.

“The winter of 2013-14 resulted in high snow depths and harsh winter conditions (in the U.P.). This is the second consecutive winter of conditions that are expected to result in low over-winter survival and low fawn production this spring,” the DNR wrote.

Only four U.P. DMUs would offer antlerless permits this year. The DNR is proposing to offer 5,000 private land permits and no public land permits in the Menominee Unit (DMU 055), 1,500 private and no public permits in Gladstone (DMU 155), 500 private and no public permits in Norway (DMU 122), and 100 private and 100 public permits in Round/Boise Blanc Island (DMU 149).

While reductions have been recommended for 29 DMUs, four units would actually see an increase in the number of permits issued. The Benzie Unit (DMU 010) would see a reduction in public land permits from 600 in 2013 to 100 in 2014, but an increase from 400 to 1,400 private land permits. Grand Traverse would see a reduction from 500 to 100 public land permits and an increase from 900 to 1,900 private land permits. In Osceola County, public land permits would increase from 100 to 300 and private land permits would increase from 5,300 to 5,600. The public land Shiawassee Unit (DMU 273), which is within the Shiawassee County Unit, would increase from 300 to 1,000 public land permits.

Also, Branch (DMU 012), Kalamazoo (DMU 039) and St. Joseph (DMU 075) would be moved to the multi-county Sherwood Unit where 1,000 private and 16,000 public permits would be available.

The proposal was submitted for information at the June 12 NRC meeting and is open for public comment. It’s expected to be voted upon at the July 10 NRC meeting.

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