I'm Your Huckleberry
By Scott Brand
Posted Apr. 29, 2015 at 11:45 AM
Sault Ste. Marie
Anticipating the deer harvest will be among the lowest recorded over the last three decades, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is preparing to present six different options to the Natural Resources Commission at the May 7 session in Lansing, including closing the entire Upper Peninsula to deer hunting for the upcoming season.
While this is only one option on the table, the potential closure of deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula seems to be drawing the most buzz since the April 24 memorandum began to circulate on the Internet.
The full list of options on the six page document includes:
• maintaining the current season and license structure;
• close the entire deer hunting season in the Upper Peninsula;
• eliminate the combination license option in the U.P. (one buck) and eliminate the antlerless option during archery season when using the single license;
• eliminate the antlerless option during archery season;
• eliminate the antlerless option for archery hunters during the late archery season only;
• eliminate the Liberty and Independence hunts in the Upper Peninsula.
Each option comes with a lengthy description of the pros and cons associated with implementation.
The closure of the 2015 deer hunting season offers the greatest amount of protection, according to the report, conserving more deer going into the winter.
“There are significant ramifications resulting from closing down a deer hunting season in a region,” reads the report, noting the fiscal impacts to the local economy and lost revenue from license sales of approximately $3 million. “Since winter is a primary driver of deer populations in the UP, it’s possible that many of the deer that are not harvested by hunters will succumb to winter loss.”
Again, the closure of the 2015 Upper Peninsula deer season is merely an option being explored and a final determination will not be forthcoming until the June meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.
When it comes to maintaining the status quo, essentially replicating the regulations and licensing from 2014, the major con comes in the form of low deer numbers and a perceived lack of responsiveness by the DNR.
Eliminating the combination license and the antlerless option during the archery season while using a single license appears destined to have only a minor effect on the overall deer herd, according to the report, while carrying the risk of significant economic impact if implemented.
Eliminating the antlerless option during the archery season, including combination licenses, could reduce the harvest by 5,000 or more deer across the Upper Peninsula, but many of those, the report reveals, are taken in areas where the deer have successfully wintered due to the more moderate climate. This measure would also be complicated as some hunters have already purchased license for the upcoming season. Elimination of antlerless hunting during the late archery season would have an unknown effect as the DNR does not have specific figures regarding the proportion of the antlerless harvest for December.
The Liberty and Independence Hunts in September, designed to promote hunting for youth and those with disabilities, make up a small fraction of the annual harvest and the financial impact is likewise considered minimal.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will look for further direction from the Natural Resources Commission on this issue at the May 7 session in preparing for June action setting the 2015 season.