Coming up later this week the Natural Resources Commission will be meeting at the West Shore Community College, in Scottville on Thursday beginning at 1 o’clock, and deer regulations are up for information! Read on to check out the latest on the proposed changes for the 2017-2019 deer regulation cycle.

Back in 2014, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the Department agreed to begin a three-year regulatory cycle in an effort to stabilize deer regulations, reduce public confusion, and enhance communications.

Since the findings of chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Department proposes amending the protocols and control measures in the Wildlife Conservation Order to maintain aggressive surveillance outlined in the Michigan’s Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and Privately-Owned Cervids. The following are the proposed changes:

  • Add Portland and Danby townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County to Deer Management Unit (DMU) 333.
  • 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.
  • Require deer check in DMU 359.
  • The head must be surrendered to the Department for CWD testing, along with any other material requested by the Department, and affixed with a Department-issued CWD survey tag.
  • Eliminate the requirement for carcasses to be presented at check stations if the deer is going to be stored or processed outside of the core area.
  • Prohibit the importation of carcasses or parts thereof, of cervids into Michigan from any state or province.
  • Individuals picking up roadkill within DMU 333 and DMU 359 must obtain a permit and submit heads to the Department within 72 hours of pick-up.
  • Provide Disease Control Permits to landowners within DMU 359.
  • The Director may authorize a disease management hunt, lasting no longer than nine days between January 2 and March 31 where additional harvest is deemed necessary to meet disease management objectives.

In regards to the three-year pilot program, Deer Management Assistance Permit (DMAP) regulations, the Department proposes to remove the 2017 sunset clause in Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties.  Qualifying landowners within these DMAP pilot program counties were permitted to use firearms during portions of the early archery season for deer under certain conditions.  Additionally, the Department proposes the following:

  • Remove the exception criteria published in the Decision Tree and allow for field staff to issue DMAP exceptions upon request.
  • Remove the ability to permit the use of firearms during archery season except for the period of October 1 through October 14.
  • Leave all inspection requirements to the discretion of the wildlife regional supervisors.

Current regulations allow for the take of one antlered deer with a DMAP on lands within the pilot program area when the following conditions are met: an inspection by Department personnel finds that an antlered deer is causing acute damage through antler rubbing on agricultural or horticultural trees, shrubs, etc. occurring multiple times a week, and that the landowner has used barriers or other methods to prevent deer damage.  All antlered deer harvested with a DMAP must be submitted, including antlers, to the Department within 72 hours of harvest.

However, there is currently no mechanism available to take bucks that are protected under antler point restriction (APR) during an open deer season and causing damage.  The Department is proposing to allow the take of antlered deer statewide with a DMAP under the following:

  • Allow for the number of antlered deer taken with a DMAP to be determined by the investigator based on the amount of damage occurring.
  • Require only the head and antlers to be submitted to Department staff.
  • Harvest of an antlered deer using a DMAP must be reported to a specified Department office or personnel within the business hours of the next 72 hours of harvest.

In 2014 the NRC requested the Department include an additional reporting requirement of all permittees authorized to use a firearm.  In addition to the DMAP reporting requirement due by January 15, permittees authorized to use a firearm must provide the Department by October 29, the name and address of all hunters, number of deer harvested, and the method of take used under the permit from October 1 through October 14.  The Department proposes eliminating this additional reporting requirement and adding it to the DMAP report that is due by January 15.  The report will include:

  • Name and address of all hunters.
  • Number of deer harvested under the authority of the permit.
  • If permitted to use a firearm, the name and address of al hunters, number of deer harvested, and method of take used under the permit from October 1 through October 14.

This change is proposed statewide, and is intended to provide simplicity to reporting requirements.

Currently, if the permittee fails to comply with the conditions of the permit, such as submitting an annual report, the permittee is ineligible to receive DMAPs for one year.  In order to ensure better records management, the Department proposes expanding ineligibility for a landowner to receive DMAPs for up to three years for repeated noncompliance.

In regards to Drummond Island (DMU 117) the Department is proposing to implement a 3-point APR on the single deer license in DMU 117.  The Drummond Island Plan Writing Team (a Department facilitated consortium representing local government, local businesses, sportsmen, residents, and recreationalists) requested this proposal.  The Department is also proposing that an individual shall not take more than one antlered deer in DMU 117 per deer hunting season.

For the North Manitou Island (DMU 145), the National Park Service (NPS) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has asked the Department to adjust the Wildlife Conservation Order for clarification purposes.  The following are the recommended adjustments:

  • Clarification on what type of license and/or permit is required for deer hunting seasons
    • A special permit, along with a current deer license for the appropriate season is required to hunt deer during the open firearm deer season.
    • A current deer license for the appropriate season is required to hunt deer during the designated open bow and arrow season.  No special permit is required.
    • Clarification on the bag limit for each deer hunting season
      • No limit during the open firearm deer season.  Deer taken are not included in the season limit.
      • Deer taken during the designated open bow and arrow season shall be included in the season limit.
      • Clarification on tagging requirements
        • Deer taken during the open firearms deer season shall not be tagged with a deer license.  The park superintendent or his agents shall affix a validation tag to each legally taken deer during the open firearms deer seasons.
        • Deer taken during the open bow and arrow season shall be tagged using a valid deer license.
        • Other recommendations
          • The open firearms deer season will be determined by the park superintendent or his agents annually.
          • The open firearms deer season shall not occur sooner than the last Saturday in October or later than November 13.
          • Prohibit the use of bait.

These recommended adjustments are to allow NPS staff to manage the North Manitou Islands DMU more effectively and efficiently.

For the Northeast Lower Peninsula Multi-County (DMU 487), the Department has developed a comprehensive management proposal after further assessment of regulations related to TB eradication.  This includes non-regulatory items such as:

  • Working with MUCC Cooperative Coordinator to establish more cooperatives in the area which have shown to result in higher hunter satisfaction levels, higher rates of antlerless harvest, and higher rates of compatibility with management goals set forth by the Department.
  • The formation of a new work group, the Northern Lower Deer Stewardship Collaboration that includes the Department, MUCC, Michigan State University Extension and the local Conservation Districts.  The goal pf the group is to work towards achieving the goals put forth in the Bovine Tuberculosis Disease Management Plan, mitigate crop damage by deer including deer/cattle interactions, and work more closely with landowners and hunters to help bridge differences in desired outcomes.
  • Coordinating the two grant opportunities available in the northeast LP to favor those individuals who are:
    • Willing to pursue specific deer management goals (e.g., harvesting more antlerless deer than antlered, having all deer tested, etc.)
    • Willing to form cooperatives or neighborhood partnerships near active agriculture

Within this new approach to management for the TB area, the Department also proposes retaining the liberalized antlerless tagging options for DMU 487, allowing antlerless deer to be taken on a single deer license or deer combination license during the firearms, muzzleloader, or antlerless seasons.  This allows for the most flexibility of harvesting antlerless deer.  In addition, the Department proposes adding a 3-point APR to the single deer license.

The Department is proposing to dissolve the Tawas Unit (DMU 135) and add it to Iosco County (DMU 035).  The Iosco County-Tawas APR Unit was formed starting in 1997 and restricted deer hunters to only harvesting bucks if they had two or more points on one side.  This “no spike rule” was established through the mandatory quality deer management development process and was reaffirmed in 2002 through follow-up survey.  To simplify and make regulations more consistent, the Department proposes adding DMU 135 to DMU 035.

Current regulations allow hunters to purchase a private land DMU 487 antlerless deer license to address TB in the deer herd.  This license is valid in all six counties of DMU 487 (Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle); including DMU 452 and allows hunters to hunt on private land throughout the entire TB area.  Current regulations also allow hunters to purchase a public land antlerless deer license for individual DMUs within DMU 487.

The Department proposes allowing hunters to purchase a public land DMU antlerless deer license for DMU 487.  This license would be valid for all six counties of DMU 487 and would eliminate the need for hunters to purchase a public land deer license for individual DMUs within DMU 487.  Hunters wishing to hunt public land in DMU 452 would still have to purchase a public land DMU antlerless license for DMU 452, this is being maintained for historical data reporting purposes, since DMU 452 represents the core TB management area.

In order to maintain aggressive surveillance and the need to regulate baiting as part of Michigan’s overall TB eradication goal, the Department proposes to prohibit baiting in Iosco and Presque Isle counties.

In 2013, the NRC approved an implementation from the Northwest Michigan Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association for an APR in the Northwest Lower Peninsula to require 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.  The proposed area included Antrim, Benzie, Charleviox, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford counties in the Northwest LP.  A key component of this process is the requirement of the Department to conduct a survey to evaluate support for these regulations among hunters in the proposed area.  If the Department has no concerns regarding implementation of the APR, implementation by the NRC will be recommended if the survey achieves at least 50% response rate and indicates at least 66% of hunters support the proposal.  Support for APR regulations implemented under this process is to be reevaluated after they are in place for five years.   The re-survey is still ongoing for this current APR, but the preliminary numbers are strong, so the Department proposes the NRC continue the APR without sunset beginning with the 2017 deer hunting season.

In regards to Open/Closed DMUs, the availability status of each DMU for both public and private land antlerless deer licenses will be published in the 2017 Antlerless Deer Hunting Digest to provide hunters with the information needed to make decisions regarding deer hunting opportunities.  Antlerless deer license quota recommendations will be presented to the NRC at the June meeting.

Of the 22 DMU’s in the UP region, Wildlife Division biologists have provided recommendations to allow five units to be open to antlerless license issuance during 2017-2019.  Four of these units, DMU 055 (Menominee), DMU 121 (Bay de Noc), DMU 155 (Gladstone), and DMU 255 (La Branche) have proposals for issuance of both public and private land licenses, and one unit, DMU 122 (Norway), has a proposal for issuance for private land only licenses.

All DMU’s within the Northern LP region are recommended to be open for antlerless licenses on both private and public land during 2017-2019, with the exception of private land licenses for DMU 145 (North Manitou Island), as no private land is contained within that DMU.

It is also recommended that all DMUs in the Southern LP be open for antlerless deer licenses during 2017-2019.  The sole exception is to leave DMU 025 (Genesee County) closed for public land antlerless deer licenses, as no public land is contained within that DMU.

For the South Fox Island Unit (DMU 245), a special deer hunt is conducted to control the deer heard and preserve the natural vegetation.  In order to simplify and provide hunters with more hunting opportunities, the Department proposes removing the 2-point APR in DMU 245.   Current regulations require hunters to obtain a South Fox island permit, along with a current Michigan deer hunting license for the appropriate season, to take deer during the designated open seasons in DMU 245.  In order to simplify and remove barriers to harvesting deer in DMU 245, the Department is also proposing to eliminate the requirement to obtain a South fox Island permit.  In addition, the Department proposes that the South fox Island season dates for bow and arrow season and firearm deer season align with current statewide open dates for these seasons.

Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne are three of the most urbanized counties in Michigan and are experiencing human-deer conflicts at a high level of intensity.  This includes high rates of deer-vehicle collisions and destruction of landscaping and natural areas on private and community owned properties.  In order to help manage these ongoing human-deer conflicts in this high urbanized area, the Department proposes establishing a pilot Urban Deer Management Zone for Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties that allows for an extension of the archery season until January 31.  Licenses including a deer license, combination deer license, or an antlerless deer license, are valid during the extended season.  All rules and regulations for the archery season apply.  It is proposed that this pilot Urban Deer Management zone and expansion of the archery deer season be allowed for three years for evaluation with a 2020 sunset clause.

Other regulation considerations the Department is proposing for the 2017-2019 deer regulation cycle includes:

  • Antlerless Tagging Options:  In order to provide additional CWD and TB surveillance, the Department proposes allowing individuals possessing a valid deer hunting license may take an antlerless deer during the early and late antlerless season on private land within DMU 333, DMU 419, DMU 452 and DMU 487.
  • Carrying a Crossbow during Muzzleloading and Black-Powder Firearm Season:  In order to provide clarity and simplification of complex regulations, the Department proposes allowing an individual to carry and possess a crossbow and a legal firearm, simultaneously, while hunting deer during the muzzleloading and black-powder firearms season in zones 2 and 3.
  • Eliminate Daily Antlerless Purchase Limits:  Current regulations allow hunter to purchase up to a daily limit of two antlerless deer licenses statewide, except for DMU 333, DMU 419, DMU 452 and DMU 487, where there is no daily purchase limit.  In order to provide simplicity and allow for easier purchase of antlerless deer licenses, the Department proposes eliminating the daily antlerless purchase limits.
  • Free Permits for Commercial Processors:  The Department proposes requiring all commercial processing operations to obtain a free permit from the Department.  This permit will be issued in order for the Department to properly administer and oversee commercial processors who accept wild animals for processing and storage.
  • Name and Address, Michigan Driver’s License, or DNR Sportcard on a Tree Stand or Blind:  Current regulations state that the name and address of a person placing a constructed blind, scaffold, or raised platform on public land must be permanently attached, etched, engraved, or painted on the structure.  In order to provide consistency between species regulations, the Department proposes allowing the choice between name and address, the complete Michigan driver’s license number, or the DNR Sportcard number of a person placing a constructed blind, scaffold, or raised platform on public land.
  • Rehabilitation of Deer:  the Department’s wildlife rehabilitator permitting process allows individuals to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.  The intention of wildlife rehabilitation is to release all animals back to the wild, or humanely euthanize, if necessary.  In order to prevent the unintentional spread of disease through rehabilitation of deer, the Department proposes that all wild deer of special concern be released by October 1 annually.  In addition, the Department proposes that in an event that a wild deer is humanely euthanized by a rehabilitator, the carcass shall be sent or taken at the earliest possible time to the wildlife disease laboratory.

To preview the full memorandum on the proposed deer regulations for 2017-2019, they can be found online at and the full agenda for the NRC meeting on Thursday, May 11, can be found here,4570,7-153-65134_65145_65545—,00.html.  We hope to see you there, but if you cannot make it MUCC will be live streaming the video from our Facebook page which can be found here!!

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