The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will vote on 2021 bear hunting regulations and quotas when it meets Thursday. 

These proposed rules and regulations are similar to those in place in the 2020 seasons, with a few key changes, including a possible elimination of rules allowing for the placement of bear bait barrels on public lands and a shift in migratory game bird hunting zones. Bear hunting regulations and quotas occur on two-year intervals and were last considered in 2019. 

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NRC will meet virtually using an online platform to consider a few items of business. To call in without video, use this phone number: 1 (631) 992-3221, Access Code: 460-734-839. 

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) staff have worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and NRC on these rules, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter. 

“I truly appreciate the DNR and the NRC incorporating so much stakeholder feedback into these rules and regulations,” Trotter said. “As always, we at MUCC look forward to continuing our work with the members of the NRC to make these regulations easy to understand, while also fully protecting Michigan’s wildlife and Michigan’s hunters.”

The DNR is slated to give a number of presentations to the NRC, including a review of the proposed falconry rules and an update on bovine tuberculosis surveillance efforts. 

New Business

Members of the NRC will gather information on a wildlife conservation order which will set the 2021-2023 falconry regulations

DNR Director Dan Eichinger will also consider six land transactions, which may be viewed here. These consist of three sales, one acquisition, an easement and a release of deed restrictions. None of these actions involve more than eight acres of land.  

Old Business

The NRC will gather information on a wildlife conservation order regulating 2021/22 bear hunting regulations and quotas. Bear license quota recommendations have been developed using the best available science, including the incorporation of statistical models to determine key population dynamics. 

Many bear management units (BMUs) will see increased harvest quotas, while the Bergland, Carney and Gwinn BMUs in the Upper Peninsula will see marginal decreases in license quotas. After incorporating feedback from the Michigan Bear Forum and the DNR Internal Bear Workgroup, the DNR is recommending several changes to the bear hunting regulations for the next two years. Notably, the DNR is recommending a removal of a rule allowing the use of bait barrels on public land, as well as expanding the Red Oak BMU archery-only season to the Baldwin and Gladwin BMUs. 

MUCC supports the existing rule allowing the use of bear bait barrels on public lands, per a 2017 resolution. MUCC staff will testify before the NRC Thursday to advocate for the continuation of this rule. In 2019, a two-year trial period occurred for allowing bait barrels on public lands within 100 feet of a roadway. DNR Law Enforcement Division noted that a large portion of the sites found were out of compliance in some manner. The trial period sunset at the end of 2020.

DNR Director Dan Eichinger will consider a proposed order to consolidate and standardize watercraft use restrictions in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. This comes after the implementation of erosion control measures intended to mitigate the impacts of launching certain watercraft. 

MUCC encourages individuals to register to participate in the public comment portion of the NRC meetings. Due to the virtual format, it has never been easier to share your opinion on matters related to the commission.

Since 1937, MUCC has united citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage – and we do so from Lansing to Washington D.C. Please join us today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC

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