Antler Point Restrictions in Michigan's Thumb area
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For those of you who hunt in Michigan's Thumb region, we need your help!
This proposal is to change current antlered deer hunting regulations in Tuscola, Huron, Sanilac, Lapeer and St. Clair Counties to a 4 point APR for single tag or both combo tags. Hunters eligible for Michigan's Youth Hunt and special Liberty and Independence Hunts will be exempt from APR during these special hunts.
This proposal is a solution to a recurring problem in the Thumb area of Michigan. There are several issues to be addressed. The first issue is that hunter retention and satisfaction is decreasing due to our current deer management plan not working effectively anymore. The second issue is that our current deer densities are very high, as our antlerless quotas are some of the highest in the state. Again this is largely due to our current deer management plan not working effectively anymore and the decrease in hunter retention. Hunters and farmers continually become frustrated because the quality of the deer hunt is not there and the high deer densities are causing increased crop damage that is crucial in yield gain or lose. We are also increasing our risk of disease control and spread with higher deer densities. Currently the Thumb area is disease free and does not have any borders to a disease zone. But with the risk of Bovine Tuberculosis or Chronic Wasting Disease, this can have a severe negative impact to local economies as well as agricultural practices.
We asking that the Michigan DNR implement a 4 point APR for single tag or both combo tags in these 5 counties so that hunters will have a better quality age class in antlered deer and therefore a better quality hunt. With a higher quality hunt, hunter retention and satisfaction should increase. With hunters staying in the field more, and antlerless harvest having a higher incentive. Deer densities being lowered and more balanced therefore decreasing crop damage and chance for disease spread.
There are close to 60,000 deer hunters who hunt the woods and fields in these 5 counties. These men, women and children hunt 3,986 square miles or 2,551,040 acres of land in Michigan’s Thumb. Each of these counties has high deer densities as well as high deer hunter numbers; DMU 332 has the highest deer hunter numbers in the state. This means that all of the hunters in this 5 county area makes up 10% of the total hunters, and 10% of the total number of deer harvested in the state. However these 5 counties have some of the highest hunters per DMU then majority of the state, with DMU 332 accounting for 34,429 total hunters. These hunters spend countless hours and money investing into a resource that is not being managed for quality, herd dynamics and herd health.
Even with hunter numbers being high in the Thumb region, the antlerless harvest is low compared to the availability of game, antlered harvest and antlerless tag availability. In these 5 counties, the total quota number for antlerless tags in 2016 was 75,100 tags. Of those 75,100 tags, only 16,875 tags of 34,366 antlerless tags sold, where filled. In comparison, hunters in this same region harvested 20,186 antlered deer in the same season. This is strongly due to the current management plan not having an incentive for antlerless harvest. Majority of the 2,551,040 acres of land in these 5 counties, is made up of agricultural land. Farming makes up the largest workforce in the thumb and the biggest economic means for this area. Because of the lack of antlerless harvest, deer densities continue to be high. This causes dissatisfaction with members of the agricultural community due to crop loss from damage and the increased risk of transferable disease to livestock. Under APR’s this will create an incentive on antlerless deer harvest and help reduce densities. This will also increase hunter satisfaction in age quality of antlered deer and still provide memories and experiences in the field as well as meat for the table.
We propose that the MDNR and NRC implement a 4 point APR for single tag or both combo tags in these 5 counties. These work quickly and effectively in the increase of not only age structure increase in antlered deer. But an increase in antlerless harvest, just as data from the Northwest 13 counties under APR has shown. APR’s are designed to protect 50% of yearling bucks and allow them to reach age 2. APR’s are also designed to place an incentive to harvest antlerless deer. We propose the implementation of a 4 point APR for single tag or both combo tags in these 5 counties. These 5 counties are surrounded by the Great lakes as well as not bordering any county with CWD or Bovine TB threats. These 5 counties have a rich history of deer hunting and a strong support for a better deer management. In addition, the Northwest 13 counties implemented this in their area in 2013, and the data from this area has shown how well they work and how well hunters in that area support that change.
In conclusion, we strongly feel that implementing a 4 point APR for single tag or both combo tags in these 5 counties would help increase hunter satisfaction and retention as well as reduce overall deer densities in the 5 county region. Implementing this regulation change would be of tremendous benefit to hunters, farmers and local economies. It would put an end to the constant frustration of hunters having a poor quality in antlered deer age structure and quality hunt. Would increase local economies as hunters will spend more time in the field and local businesses will see an increase in patrons. And lastly we would see a decrease in deer densities to a more balanced density that will aid in crop damage decreasing and risk of disease decreasing.
So if you are a hunter who hunts in these 5 counties, please sign and share this proposal with your friends and family who hunt this region.
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