Deer Hunting: Northwest Michigan Antler Point Restriction on the Agenda
Want an issue more touchy than wolves? Enter APRs!
It is deer hunting regulation-setting season, and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) kicked this off on May 9, at their monthly meeting at the RAM Center. They discussed antlerless harvest and which Deer Management Units (DMUs) should be open or closed, based on the recommendations of DNR wildlife biologists. They will also be taking up the Northwest Michigan APR proposal, for possible action next week.
Antler point restrictions (APRs) are a means by which harvest of young bucks can be reduced by requiring hunters to only harvest deer with a minimum number of antler points. MUCC supports the voluntary implementation of APRs on private land, but we have no position for or against mandatory APRs in a region. When these proposals come up, we share the information with our members and allow them to engage in the process in what ever way they wish.
The APR Process
A process developed by the NRC, the Department, and other interested stakeholders allows hunting organizations to propose implementation of a mandatory APR in one or more DMUs. A key component of this process is the requirement for 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 ofthe APR, implementation by the NRC will be recommended if the survey achieves at least a 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 Northwest Michigan Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association proposed implementation of an APR 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, Charlevoix, Emmet,
Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford Counties in the Northwest Lower Peninsula.
The Department mail survey to evaluate support for this proposal achieved an 80% response rate and indicated about 69% of hunters supported the APR. In keeping with the APR process, the Department recommends the NRC implement the proposed APR beginning with the 2013
deer hunting season.
What Do You Think?
The next step is the NRC taking public comment on the proposal before acting on it at their June 13 meeting in Lansing. Concerns have already been expressed by farmers (mainly orchard owners) about larger bucks impacting their trees through rubbing and from sportsmen concerned that this might increase the prevalence of Bovine Tb. In both cases, it is believed that continuing or increasing doe harvest will help more than the APR might harm the health of the population or agriculture. But it’s still a tricky thing. There is no exemption for youth or people with disabilities. What about hunters who rely on this for a source of lean, healthy, and inexpensive protein?