NRC to Vote on Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations, Consider Bear Hunting Rules

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will gather information on 2021/22 bear hunting regulations and quotas, as well as to vote on migratory bird hunting regulations when it meets Thursday. 

These proposed rules and regulations are very similar to those in place for the 2020 seasons, with a few key changes, including a possible revocation 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 issues related to COVID-19, the NRC will meet virtually using an online platform to consider a full agenda. To attend, please call in using this phone number: 1 (415) 655-0052 and use access code 525-088-420. 

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) has worked with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and NRC on each of these regulation packages, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter. 

“We appreciate the DNR and the NRC incorporating the feedback of so many different stakeholder groups in these proposals,” Trotter said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the members of the NRC to continue to make these rules and regulations easy to understand and best serve the needs of Michigan’s wildlife and Michigan’s hunters.”

The DNR is slated to give a number of updates to the NRC, including a presentation on watercraft use in the Pigeon River Country State Forest and on proposed bear hunting regulations and license quotas. 

New 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’s 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. 

The NRC will not take action on these regulations at this meeting.

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. 

Eichinger will also consider seven land transactions, which may be viewed here

Action Items

The NRC will vote on a wildlife conservation order on migratory game bird hunting seasons. Migratory game bird hunting in 2021 will resemble 2020; however, there are a few minor changes that could be implemented. 

The proposed rule has incorporated hunter feedback to attempt to more closely align goose and duck hunting seasons. The 2021 season will also be the first season with a shift in the migratory game bird hunting zones, which should facilitate additional hunter opportunities. 

DNR staff have also recommended aligning the opening of woodcock season with the opening of grouse season. It should also be noted that all migratory game bird hunting regulation decisions made by the state are done within a framework provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Director Eichinger will consider an order regarding hunting and trapping in state parks and recreation areas. This proposal will neither expand or decrease the boundary areas, but it will help to align language in the Wildlife Conservation Orders with rules on public-facing GIS maps. 

Director Eichinger will also consider a land use order to clarify rules surrounding the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on certain pieces of public land managed by the DNR. Major changes include removing the prohibition of alcohol at three boating access sites to better align with other rules within the unit, as well as a consolidation of state parks and recreation area alcohol prohibitions to April 1 through Labor Day. This land use order will be considered at this meeting, but action on the item must wait until February to meet public notice requirements. 

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:

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