The nine-day mid-December Michigan elk season has been tallied, and the harvest results are impressive. The state looks to be managing elk effectively.
The 2016 Michigan elk season has fully and completely concluded and the numbers are in, with the closing and final tallies of the December second half of the season.
A total of 100 state licenses were available for the nine-day season (December 10-18), which were divvied up to include 30 any-elk and 70 antlerless-only licenses. 54 cows, 29 bulls and nine calves were harvested during the nine days, which translates to an impressive 92 percent success rate.
The first half of the two season Michigan elk hunt ran from late August to early October for 12 staggered season dates. That season also saw an impressive 85 percent hunter success rate.
Some snowfall just before the December season opened made it easier to see and track the big animals.
“Fortunately, because of the nature of our elk season, we are really able to work closely with hunters,” said DNR wildlife biologist Shelby Hiestand.
“Regulated hunting is the most effective tool in managing wildlife numbers,” said Hiestand. “We are able to efficiently and quickly get results in a very hands-on and specific approach.”
A statement from the Michigan DNR reported that “Elk population estimates are derived from aerial elk surveys, which in recent survey years showed population estimates exceeding the stated elk management plan goals of 500 to 900 elk. As a result, the 2016 elk license quotas were increased from the prior hunting season and the elk survey frequency will be increased.”
Michigan wants to keep the population at between 500 and 900 animals. But right now, officials estimate the elk herd to contain around 1,300 animals, necessitating a fairly significant reduction for the sustainable health of the herd and the habitat’s holding capacity.
“Our wildlife management goals are always to balance the numbers of animals with the habitat that’s available,” said Hiestand.
“Michigan’s current elk population is a historical feat in wildlife management,” she said. “The elk hunt is just one more way many people’s lives are touched by elk, which is pretty special.”
The featured image to this article is of hunter David Bowman with a huge bull elk he harvested in Michigan’s December hunt.
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