The number of hunters in Michigan declined by 270,000 over the last 30 years leaving a growing deer population that has wreaked havoc on local communities.
To track the data, the Michigan government introduced a new system for more accurate results. In spite of some pushback from hunters who raised concerns over privacy, accessibility, and punishments for violating, the new program seems to be a success tracking over 250,000 kills in the first few days of the season.
“Beginning this year, deer hunters are required to report a successful harvest within 72 hours or before transferring possession of the deer (to another person, a processer or taxidermist). Hunters must continue to attach a paper kill tag to a harvested deer. The kill tag should remain with the head if the head and body of the deer are separated. Anyone in possession of a deer after the harvest reporting timeframe expires should be able to present the confirmation number.”
While Michigan’s deer hunting season comes in different waves throughout the fall and early winter, various firearms are approved from November 15th through January 1st.
DNR deer, elk and moose management specialist Chad Stewart has been researching the data. Stewart believes they can track over 400,000 deer before the season ends.
In the past, the DNR has been able to survey 60,000 hunters to gather their data, but participation has dropped off in recent years. The more accurate data will be able to guide Michigan’s DNR in future endeavors to control the deer population. The up-to-date data gives the DNR more confidence in their estimates – something the old system was incapable of doing.
“It took a long time to get that information back,” Stewart said in an interview with Bridge Michigan.
Even though most hunters have come around to the new system, Stewart says it is not without its faults or detractors. According to the data, Stewart says some hunters have claimed kills in weird locations like Antarctica or the middle of a lake. However, he says most hunters have come around to it. One of the main reasons it is important for the DNR to know about kill locations is to combat bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease.
For those who plan to hunt in Michigan this season, a violation of the new law could come with 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.