NRC gathers input on deer regulations at May meeting

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) considered changes to the deer hunting rules Thursday and oversaw a number of orders signed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) director.

The proposed deer hunting regulations included two administrative changes relating to muzzleloader hunting and a ban of urine-based lures and attractants. The falconry rules and regulations include a single administrative change to the apprentice permit program. 

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NRC met virtually using an online platform to consider a few items of business

MUCC is encouraged by the commissioners’ responses and considerations of the proposed ban of urine-based lures and attractants, said MUCC Policy Coordinator Ian FitzGerald. 

“It was clear that commissioners were eager for more information on the proposed ban,” FitzGerald said. “We’re hopeful that this feedback will give the department the time and context necessary to evaluate all of the options available before implementing an all-out ban.” 

The DNR gave a few presentations to the NRC, including an overview of the proposed shooting preserve regulations and the proposed deer regulations. 

The NRC also heard from three members of the MUCC staff Thursday on issues ranging from land transactions and urine-based attractants to the processes by which the NRC makes fish and wildlife policy in the state. 

New Business

Members of the NRC gathered information on a proposed wildlife conservation order that could change rules for deer hunters in the 2021 season. This order would correct an administrative error which excluded Muskegon County from muzzleloader hunting regulations, align the dates of muzzleloader seasons statewide and ban the possession of deer-urine-based lures or attractants.

According to the proposed order, possession of urine-based lures and attractants “that contain or claim to contain cervid urine or other bodily fluids originating from deer ”would be banned, as these products can facilitate the spread of chronic wasting disease. However, synthetic lures and attractants would still be permitted.” 

This change comes after the Archery Trade Association, an organization representing manufacturers and retailers of archery hunting equipment, transitioned their Deer Protection Program (DPP) to the Responsible Hunting Scent Association (RHSA). There is little information on RHSA, as it is a very new organization. 

Members of the NRC discussed an amendment altering the proposed ban on urine-based products. The NRC will likely vote on these changes at their June meeting. 

DNR Director Dan Eichinger considered an order regarding game bird shooting preserves. These new rules would open shooting preserves year-round for most species and remove the county-specific cap on shooting preserve acreage. Director Eichinger will likely sign this order at the June NRC meeting. 

Director Eichinger also signed five and transactions, which may be viewed here. These consist of one small sale, two exchanges and two acquisitions. One acquisition, the Crystal Waters Tract, includes a 680 acre parcel which will become a state game area. For more information on the acquisition, please see our release here

Old Business

Director Eichinger signed the proposed 2021-23 falconry rules and regulations, which include one administrative change to the permitting program.

Director Eichinger also signed an order to regulate recreational shooting at the Muskegon and Rogue River State Game Areas. These changes intend to improve the safety of these state lands and reduce the amount of debris being left in certain areas of the SGAs.

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