Michigan’s Deer Hunting Status

By Glen Wunderlich

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has its hands full with wildlife issues, and accordingly, what follows is a brief outline of some of pro-active measures being proposed for adoption by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) for the 2017-2019 deer regulation cycle.

CWD:  With the onset of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and its recent discovery in yet more areas, the DNR proposes amending the protocols and control measures in the Wildlife Conservation Order by adding Portland and Danby townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County to Deer Management Unit (DMU) 333.  This area encompasses that of the latest CWD discoveries and would create a new core CWD area, DMU 359, which includes Mecosta, Austin, Morton, Hinton, Aetna, and Deerfield townships in Mecosta County, and Cato, Winfield, and Reynolds townships in Montcalm County.

Deer checks would be required in DMU 359, as well as all protocol already in place elsewhere in the state.

Disease Control Permits also would be provided to landowners within DMU 359.

A disease management hunt may be authorized, lasting no longer than nine days between January 2 and March 31, if additional harvest is deemed necessary to meet disease management objectives.  This measure can be implemented in the event hunters do not kill enough deer during normal hunting seasons.

Antler Point Restrictions:  In 2013, the NRC approved a measure from the Northwest Michigan Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) for Antler Point Restrictions (APR)  in the Northwest Lower Peninsula requiring that hunters harvest an antlered deer only if they have at least one antler with three or more antler points.  A second antlered deer would need to have at least four points on one antler, which is consistent with current regulations elsewhere in the state.

This bold move had to receive a minimum of a 50-percent response level from the area’s hunters.  In addition, although the DNR conducted the survey, the expense of the undertaking had to be paid by the QDMA, and when the results were tabulated, an overwhelming minimum of 67 percent of respondents had to be in favor of the proposal.

The measure passed and those I’ve encountered in this area couldn’t be happier with the results.  Antler growth, as well as body size and health are appreciably stronger in just a few short years.  However, because the regulation has a sunset provision, another survey must maintain the regulation’s acceptance.  This re-survey is still being processed for the current APR, but preliminary responses show a 70-percent response rate and an overwhelming 76-percent of hunters in support.  Subsequently, the DNR proposes the NRC continue the APR without sunset beginning with the 2017 deer hunting season.

Antlerless Permits:  Finally, because of relatively mild winters the past two years, deer numbers are higher in certain areas of the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula.  As a result, 5 of the 22 Deer Management Units in the U.P. are proposed to be open for antlerless hunting, as well as the entire northern Lower Peninsula on both public and private lands.  Of course, all of the southern Lower Peninsula is to remain open to liberal antlerless hunting, as well.

Audubon Great Lakes unveils MI Birds Facebook page

Did you know that the ruffed grouse, which inhabits Michigan’s northern forests, drums so deeply that people often feel its sound rather than hear it? Or that great horned owls begin laying eggs during January’s subzero temperatures – often incubating while snow accumulates on their backs? Or how about the 12,000 individual tundra swans that spend each spring and fall in the Saginaw Bay region while en route between the Arctic and the Carolina coast? Learn about these species and many more by joining the new MI Birds Facebook page. Read more

Food Plot Resources from Quality Deer Management Association

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The Second Amendment and Conservation

May, 2017

The oldest conservation organization in North America has released its position on gun ownership and its historical influence on wildlife conservation.

“Sportsmen have known for a long time that hunting supports and funds wildlife conservation and management programs,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “What is often overlooked is that the most successful system of wildlife conservation ever devised – the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation – would not have been possible without sportsmen and their right to own and use firearms.”

Public ownership of firearms was instrumental to the birth of the conservation movement in North America and still contributes to its continued success. The Boone and Crockett Club supports the right of citizens to own and use firearms. This right allows hunters to contribute to and maintain the longstanding success of wildlife conservation and management in North America.

“By the late nineteenth century wildlife species were depleted everywhere in North America,” said Hollingsworth. “It is indisputable that the hunter-conservationist movement rescued many species from certain extinction.”

Early hunter-conservationists like Theodore Roosevelt, who formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, took action to allow game species to recover in the abundance we have today. Sportsmen across the nation joined Roosevelt in choosing to restrict themselves, limit their take, and abide by newly formed game laws and regulated hunting seasons. But they took one more step, explained Hollingsworth Jr.

“Even in the height of the Great Depression, sportsmen voted to tax themselves for the benefit of wildlife.” The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act), proposed by sportsmen and passed by Congress in 1937, placed an excise tax on the sale of sporting arms and ammunition with the funds earmarked for wildlife conservation and distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies. In 2016, $700 million were generated and to date, nearly $10 billion has been distributed to states.

“As we know, game species did recover, but the habitats that were secured and managed for game species now benefit all wildlife,” said Hollingsworth. “None of this would be possible without the Second Amendment. It is why protecting and maintaining gun ownership by the public is so critical to wildlife conservation.”

The full position statement and video can be found at this link.




Conservation Gets a Modest Bump in the 2017 Spending Bill

Omnibus spending package provides for sage grouse conservation, drought resiliency, conservation practices on farms and ranches, and one step forward for the Everglades

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress has passed an omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 with some increased funding for conservation and no harmful policy riders. The House and Senate’s investment in conservation is seemingly at odds with the Trump Administration’s budget outline for fiscal year 2018, which would deeply cut most conservation programs and entirely eliminate others, including Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

“While last-minute funding solutions are not the ideal way to govern, sportsmen and women should be heartened to see Congress endorse funding levels mostly on par with what we got in 2016 and even give a modest bump to the things we care about, including healthier waterways, stronger sage grouse populations, restoration assistance in the Everglades, and better conservation practices on private lands,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Tucked within more than 1,600 pages detailing government spending through September 30, the FY2017 omnibus package includes the following:

  • An $8.9-million increase for sage grouse conservation programs and no riders undermining the federal conservation plans that helped keep this iconic Western game bird off the endangered species list in 2015.
  • $864 million for Conservation Operations at the Natural Resources Conservation Service within U.S. Department of Agriculture—that’s about $13.5 million more than last year and exceeds President Obama’s last budget request by more than $1 million.
  • A $10-million increase for the Conservation Technical Assistance Program, which provides farmers and ranchers with the technical expertise to put conservation on the ground using Farm Bill dollars. This will help NRCS to deliver more than $5 billion in conservation programs to farmers, ranchers, and private foresters next year, improving fish and wildlife habitat and water quality nationwide.
  • $150 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program, which hasn’t been funded since 2002. This will help states, local governments, and tribes to enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, reduce erosion, control sediment, and construct wetlands.
  • A 30-percent increase for the WaterSMART grant program, in which the Bureau of Reclamation works with water users to help ensure rivers and streams have enough water flows to support fish, agriculture, and cities during droughts.
  • More than $10 million in funding for the National Park Service to support interagency coordination in the Everglades. Additional funding will be needed in the next fiscal year to carry construct a reservoir recently approved by the Florida legislature. This is critical to improving water quality and habitat in one of the country’s most popular fisheries.
  • Two Farm Bill conservation programs were trimmed through the Congressional budget process known as Changes in Mandatory Program Spending, or CHIMPS. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was cut by $179 million and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program was cut by $28 million. Read more

Find Funky Nests in Funky Places!

Photo by Marshall Faintich.

Ithaca, N.Y.–Funky Nests in Funky Places is back! This popular contest focuses on the quirky places birds sometimes build their nests. Participants have found nests on tiny skyscraper ledges, in barbecue grills, traffic lights, wind chimes, flower pots, an old motorcycle helmet, or just about anywhere. The contest is hosted by the Celebrate Urban Birds citizen-science project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.”Wherever you find a bird’s nest, send in a picture, video, poem, or artwork about it,” explains project leader Karen Purcell. ” You could win binoculars, bird feeders, online courses, posters, and much more.”

Nesting season is well underway, so everyone is invited to head outdoors to enjoy nature and find nesting birds in unexpected places. Participants don’t have to be bird or photography experts.

The entry deadline is June 30. Read more

Expect to start seeing fawns in May and June, but enjoy from a distance

A thicket, a patch of tall grass and a quiet spot in your back yard – what do they all have in common? They all are places where fawns have been found. For the first few weeks of a white-tailed fawn’s life, its mother will hide it in secluded locations. This behavior helps reduce the potential of predators finding the fawn.

A fawn’s spots are excellent camouflage and will help it stay hidden from predators. In addition to being hidden by its mother and having its own spotted camouflage, fawns have another adaptation to help them survive – they are virtually odorless when they are young.

“If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it,” said Hannah Schauer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications and education coordinator. “There is a good chance it is supposed to be there.” Read more

Biologists Set to Begin Bear Trapping for Research in Yellowstone National Park

BOZEMAN – As part of ongoing efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the USGS and Yellowstone National Park would like to inform the public that biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) and Yellowstone National Park will be conducting scientific grizzly bear and black bear research operations in Yellowstone National Park from May 7 through July 30.

Team members will bait and trap bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone National Park. Once trapped, the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All trapping and handling are done in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST. Read more

American woodcock – Michigan’s leading the nation

American woodcockSpring means many things to many people – morel mushrooms, trout fishing, turkey hunting or viewing migrating birds overhead. The American woodcock is one of those migrating, part-time Michigan residents that split time between the southeastern United States and Michigan.

“For decades, Michigan has helped gather information on woodcock populations, which spend time in numerous states and provinces from Canada to the Gulf,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources upland game bird specialist Al Stewart. Read more

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