Is DNR going to pull the plug on the 2015 deer season in the Upper Pen?

Doe in winter, via DNR

A proposal on the table by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources following declining harvest figures for white tails in the Upper Peninsula includes the nuclear option of canceling the 2015 hunt.

“The range of options run the gamut of most extreme to least extreme…the most extreme thing we could do is shutting down the deer season in the UP and the least extreme is do nothing because we already have very conservative recommendations,” said Chad Stewart, Deer Management Specialist.

Stewart explained that the 2014-15 harvest was the lowest in the UP in some 30 years and has been blamed on harsh winters returning fewer and fewer new members to the herd each year while mature animals suffer from shorter life spans.

“Given the recent declines in deer harvest in the U.P., the likelihood of continued low deer harvest in this region during 2015 is high,” reads an April 24th memo to the NRC stating that adult female survival rates for the 2013 winter may have been as low as 38 percent.

As outlined by the 9-page memo (detailed below) the options that will be presented to the Natural Resources Commission at their regular meeting on May 7 in Lansing range from least to most severe.

-Maintain the current season.

-Eliminate the combination license option (one buck) and the antlerless option during archery season.

-Eliminate the antlerless option during bow season– or in the late season only

-Stop the Liberty and Independence hunts in the U.P.

-Close the entire deer hunting season in the Upper Peninsula;

Some contend there are options that are not being considered.

“The Natural Resources Commission could take the restrictions off feeding for a year or two and let the deer population recover,”  said Bryan Reynolds, president of the U.P. Whitetails Association of Marquette County.

Others consider the prospect of a greatly reduced or eliminated season in the region, which DNR states could cost as much as $3 million in lost revenues from hunting licenses alone, a tragic event.

“All the people that have camps and come up and buy groceries, eating in the restaurants,” said St. Ignace Visitors Bureau President James Dekeyser to WPBN-WTOM TV.  “They have a lot of small communities and there’d be a lot of hurt on all those small communities.”

In the end, the decision will be up to the NRC, who will listen to input on May 7 and likely make a decision at their June or July meeting.

2 Comments on Is DNR going to pull the plug on the 2015 deer season in the Upper Pen?

  1. Being 73 years old and a veteran of many many Deer harvest trips I would like to make a sugestion for whatever it is worth.
    I think it would be a good idea to go back in time and have a 2015-2016 hunt the way it was done many years ago and it seemed to work fine then for the amount of deer we had at the time.
    A 15-16 hunt where you could harvest 1 (one) antlered deer of 3 inch antlers or more. No deer to be taken with less than 3 inch and absolutely no does at all.
    Check the herd at the end of the 15-16 season and if needed do it again for 16-17 season.
    The seasoned hunters would be hunting as years past and the younger set hunting as in the olden days.
    The business deer hunting brings into the area should not be in that much trouble.

  2. superposed20ga // May 6, 2015 at 8:09 am // Reply

    I don’t hunt the UP, but my heart goes out to those that do, and the DEER! It seems to me that no hunting season in the UP is more of a hands off approach to deer management by the DNR. Of course this seems to be more of the status quo when it comes to “management” of our game species. It will take the investment of private groups of hunters and conservationists to fix this situation. Including getting deer baiting and feeding legalized to get the deer through harsh winters, habitat improvement initiatives, and predator (wolf) elimination legalization. It seems to me that too many, not all, members of our DNR and state government are satisfied with getting license money but not insuring that there is actually something to hunt. Too many bean counters and not enough habitat and game managers employed in this state.

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