2013-2014 Michigan Furbearer Regulations Amended at NRC
For 2013-2014 hunting and trapping season, there are several changes to furbearer hunting and trapping regulations that were approved by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) at their last meeting on June 13, 2013. These recommendations are the result of discussions with stakeholder groups and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff beginning in 2011 or earlier.
Bobcat in the Northern Lower Peninsula
For several years, stakeholders (primarily trappers) have asked that the Department consider expanding the area of the Northern LP open to the take of bobcats. Surveys were conducted in the fall of 2011 and 2012 which showed that bobcat populations (based on occupancy in preferred habitats) were increasing in the proposed areas and were now similar to the occupancy rates seen in a portion of Bobcat Management Unit (BMU) D (currently open for the take of bobcats) in the early 2000s. Based on this information, it is likely that bobcats can sustain some harvest in the proposed areas.
The NRC approved opening bobcat hunting and trapping by creating two new BMUs. BMU E would include the counties of Leelanau, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, Mason, and Lake. BMU F would include the counties of Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isabella, Midland, and portions of Bay and Arenac that are in Zone 2, with the exception of a small part of Arenac which is presently in BMU D.
The season structure for both BMU E and BMU F would include:
- An 11-day trapping season from December 10 to 20, using foothold traps only on public and private land.
- An 11-day hunting season from January 1 to 11 on public and private land.
- A season limit of one bobcat for the entire Lower Peninsula. This would include BMUs C, D, E, and F.
Nighttime Coyotes/Nuisance Raccoon Control
The hound hunting community has expressed an interest in pursuing coyote at night with dogs, which MUCC members supported as a policy resolution in 2012. Current regulations only allow the take of raccoon, opossum and the pursuit of fox at night with dogs but not coyotes. Methods for these species are similar and nighttime training of dogs on coyotes is a common practice now. Modification of WCO will likely have little impact in current nighttime hound activities. The NRC approved adding coyotes to the list of species that may be pursued with the aid of dogs at night.
In addition, the NRC looked at allowing for nuisance raccoons to be taken year round at night with the use of lights. Current regulations allow the take of nuisance raccoons by otherwise lawful methods on private land if they are doing or about to do damage. However, WCO places restrictions on the use of lights for the take of nuisance raccoons at specific times of the year. The NRC removed the restrictions on the use of lights to take by otherwise lawful methods nuisance raccoons on private property if they or doing or about to do damage. This may allow for more effective control of nuisance raccoons.
MUCC, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and the Michigan State United Coon Hunters Association supported these changes to nighttime coyote hunting and nuisance raccoon control according to two policy resolutions, which were approved at MUCC’s 2012 Convention.
Furbearer regulation changes were moved to a two-year cycle in 2009 and beginning in 2014, furbearer regulations will be moved to review on even years.