Last week the NRC held a meeting at the West Shore Community College in Scottville, where public attendance filled the room in anticipation of the proposed 2017-2019 deer regulations cycle that were up for information.  With a full crowd and full agenda, the Commissioners wasted no time, and jumped right into business.  If you missed the meeting and would like to watch the full video it can be found on MUCC’s Facebook page here:

The start of the afternoon was led by the Fisheries Division, Chief Jim Dexter who gave a brief update on the statewide trout, salmon, whitefish, lake herring and smelt regulations, that were up for information only, as a roll over, instead of being an item up for action.  The regulation recommendations will begin in July.  Dexter briefly touched on the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) outbreak that has killed tens of thousands of fish in southeast Michigan.  Due to the outbreak, the Great Lakes muskellunge program has been put on pause for 2017, and the Department is working closely with the bait fish industry.  The disease is expected to run its course until waters reach approximately 65 degrees which should be in the next few weeks.

Following the Fisheries Division update was Wildlife Chief Russ Mason, who gave an update on double-crested cormorant management in Michigan.  In May of 2016, a federal judge ruled there was a process issue associated with extension of the Public Resource Depredation Order, ultimately shutting down double-crested cormorant control efforts.  The DNR immediately submitted applications for 2016 and 2017 for a state permit to resume control activities, however the USFWS did not act on the permits. There are still certain management efforts that can still be used but culling is not one of them.  For now, General Funs appropriation will primarily be used for harassment efforts around fish stocking locations.

The proposed deer regulations for the 2017-2019 cycle, were introduced by Chad Stewart and Ashley Autenrieth from the Wildlife Division.  A summary of the proposed regulations can be found here:

Following the deer regulation proposals, Terry Minzey the U.P. Regional Wildlife Supervisor gave an update on the Drummond Island regulations.  The plan was approved by the Director in 2015, with deer hunting recommendations aimed at producing older/larger bucks, requesting that they be restricted to 3-point on a side, and one buck tags.

MUCC’s very own Vice President George Lindquist and Mark Taylor, a member of MUCC, UPSA, and U.P. Whitetails gave a brief presentation on the U.P. CWD Task Force updating the NRC on CWD communication and outreach efforts.  U.P. Whitetails has sponsored a radio ad that is being utilized in the U.P. to educate locals on current CWD issues, and attempting to keep the U.P. CWD free!

Following the CWD update, Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson, gave an update on the yacht that sank near the shores of the Ludington State Park.  The 76-foot wooden yacht that was on its way to Traverse City marooned near off the beach on April 15, 2017, leaving behind a mess to clean up.  Volunteer and Department staff have worked hard over the last few weekends to continue picking up the scattered debris.

There was by no means a shortage on public comment, with over 45 people providing testimony, most concerning with antler point restrictions and deer regulation suggestions.  MUCC’s Executive Director Daniel Eichinger, testified in regards to the proposed deer regulations, supporting CWD regulations and proposed regulations for the TB zone, while discussing concerns over the effectiveness of the deer management assistance permit pilot program.

Following the long list of public comment, the NRC took up action items, which included the approval and adoption of Certain Rifle Use with Straight-walled Cartridges and Case Length Restrictions in the Limited Firearms Deer Zone, Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 3 of 2017.  Current regulations allow firearm deer hunters to use the following firearms in the limited firearms deer zone:

  • A shotgun with a smooth or rifled barre land may be of any gauge.
  • A .35 caliber or larger pistol capable of holding no more than nine shells at one time in the barrel and magazine combined and loaded with straight-walled cartridges.
  • A .35 caliber or larger rifle loaded with straight-walled cartridges with a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 1.80 inches
  • A .35 caliber or larger air rifle or pistol charged only form an external high-compression power source.
  • A muzzleloading rifle or black-powder pistol loaded with black powder or a commercially manufactured black-powder substitute.

The only amendment made to the Order, was removing the sunset clause.

The next meeting of the Natural Resources Commission is scheduled for June 8, 2017 at Michigan Technological University, in Houghton, Michigan, in the Memorial Union Building Ballroom.  If you are unable to attend that meeting, we will be Live Streaming from the MUCC Facebook page! We hope to see you there!

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