February NRC Recap

Commissioners received a memo for information on proposed bear regulation and quota changes at today’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.

Wildlife Conservation Order 2 of 2023, related to black bears, proposes the following changes:

  • Prohibiting field points from being used in a bow and arrow.
  • Restricting firearm caliber use to exclude rimfire ammunition.
  • Clarifying wood use at bait sites to prohibit the use of manufactured wood products.
  • Prohibition of “stupefying substances” in bear bait. Currently, poisons and anticoagulants are banned, this proposal would also ban substances like melatonin that make bears sleepy or groggy.
  • Implementation of wanton waste.
  • Changing season structure to address the potential conflict between different types of bear hunters. This would shift bait hunting forward one day, and add one additional day to the end of the season for dog-only hunting. 
  • Change the definition of a bear cub to a bear less than 42 inches in length.
  • Allow the use of dogs to fill a bear damage permit.
  • Allow nighttime shooting under a bear damage permit.
  • Prohibit manufactured openings in bear bait barrels on private land greater than one inch and less than 22 inches.
  • The proposal would set restrictions on bear baiting in areas where deer baiting is banned. 
  • A technical change adding section 2.0 of the Wildlife Conservation Order to allow ground blind placement 31 days before the season.

The order proposes the following quota changes by Bear Management Unit:

  • Red Oak: Decreasing 85 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 685.
  • Gladwin: Decreasing 20 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 100.
  • Baldwin: Increasing 55 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 395.
  • Amasa: No change from 2022, the quota remains at 500.
  • Bargara: Decreasing 5 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 1,540.
  • Bergland: Decreasing 130 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 920.
  • Carney: No change from 2022, the quota remains 550.
  • Gwinn: Decreasing 65 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 885.
  • Newberry: Decreasing 165 licenses from 2022, bringing the quota to 1,005.
  • Drummond Island: No change from 2022, the quota remains 6.

This order will be up for action at March’s NRC meeting in Bellaire. 

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) spoke in favor of the proposed changes as they were the result of consensus building between the DNR and stakeholder groups at the Michigan Bear Forum. 

NRC Chair Tom Baird gave an update on commission activities relating to wolf management. He stated that a decision tree is being crafted in conjunction with DNR staff that would guide management decisions at a time management returns to the State of Michigan. This plan will be debuted at the October NRC meeting in Escanaba. 

The director had a pair of action items in front of her at today’s meeting: Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 1 of 2023. This order would approve the proposed forest road inventory changes. The second item is the approval of the State Land Review Group 6. This land review proposes keeping almost 2,500 acres, exchanging 410.6 acres, and disposing of 305.3 acres. Acting DNR Director Shannon Lott indicated that she would sign both orders.

Director Lott also had one item up for information at the meeting, Wildlife Conservation Order 3 of 2023, Use of Electronic Trap Monitors by Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Animal Control Business. This order continues a regulation about to sunset, allowing nuisance control businesses to monitor traps by electronic means so long as they meet a list of criteria. No changes to the proposed criteria were proposed. 

During the Wildlife Committee Meeting, representatives from the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association gave an overview on the history and present state of trapping in Michigan. Trapping is an essential wildlife management tool, and Michigan was founded in large part as a trapping state. To combat the lies by anti-conservationists, MTPCA’s own Mark Earl demonstrated that traps do not in fact rip flesh and break bones, by sticking his own hand in a foothold trap.

This was the first meeting since Gov. Whitmer made appointments to fill the vacancies by the expiration of the terms held by Commissioners David Nyberg and Keith Creagh. Commissioner Nyberg was reappointed to his position and former Commissioner John Walters was appointed to replace Commissioner Keith Creagh. Both commissioners’ term expires on December 31, 2026, and are subject to the advice and consent of the Michigan Senate. 

MUCC is excited to continue, and resume our work with Commissioners Nyberg and Walters. MUCC also thanks Commissioner Keith Creagh for his work as DNR Director and his time on the Commission.

The NRC will be traveling in March. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 9, 2023 at Shanty Creek in Bellaire. 

To ensure our natural resources remain protected and managed thoughtfully and our outdoor heritage defended, join Michigan United Conservation Clubs today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC.    


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