After a devastating drop in the deer population in 2012, Michigan DNR says the numbers are on the rise and close to the department’s goal.
According to an interview, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources stated the whitetail deer population is growing faster than they expected. Two years ago, Michigan’s deer herd was hit with epizootic hemorrhagic disease, also known as EHD, and numbers dropped drastically.
Russ Mason, the chief of the DNR Wildlife Division, said that “maybe” one case of EHD was reported so far this year, and that the disease has been eradicated. Even those areas that lost the most whitetails are showing a strong comeback. Bow hunters are also reporting bigger bucks this year compared to the past.
With around 720,000 licensed hunters across the state, and firearm season starting Nov. 15, this is good news for Michigan hunters.
It should be advised that the western part of the Upper Peninsula may still have smaller numbers. This is not from an EHD outbreak, but rather due to an increase in predators, such as coyotes, and heavy snowfall.
Although the deer population is back on track, Mason does have some concerns about the number of small game hunters in the state. He said:
The bigger concern for me is that while we lose one to two percent of our deer hunters every year because of those aging effects, we’ve lost 50 percent of our small game hunters in the last 12 years.
He hopes that as children learn about deer hunting, mentors will teach them about squirrel and small game, as well, to get them involved in the sport.