Michigan commissioners have their work cut out for them as worrisome deer population numbers in the U.P. make national headlines.
Whitetail deer populations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are experiencing a declining trend causing many deer hunters to worry as they anxiously await the start of firearm season this November. Michigan's Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is tasked with coming up with a plan to preserve the deer herd and reverse the declining population numbers.
U.P. whitetail have endured three back-to-back brutal winters with intense snowfall and temperatures regularly in the negative zero to double-digit range. Harsh winters are nothing new in the north but the intensity of the past three consecutive winters has played a contributing role in lower-than-average fawn survival rates.
Now, Michigan's seven NRC commissioners are considering a variety of options to address hunter's concerns and whitetail deer populations in the U.P.
NRC commissioner Louise Klarr tells us; "The entire Department of Natural Resources - including wildlife biologists and our commission has heard the voices of hunters in the UP. We're hearing people, we're concerned ... its about doing the right thing and what we're commissioned to do."
Many options for controlling the declining numbers have been discussed in the public and within the DNR. The option of canceling the deer season altogether made headlines, and had hunters up in arms, earlier this year but was quickly dismissed by the NRC as not a productive option.
The NRC in Michigan relies heavily on the science presented by the wildlife biologists.
"Biologists are the boots on the ground and their presentations are extremely important to the NRC," says commissioner Klarr. "Also, we are working very closely with the forestry department are and already working on deer wintering areas to create better deer habitat and more of it."
Another major issue in the UP is the rising wolf population. A controversial wolf hunt was halted last season before it even got off the ground. When it comes to the deer population "predation is a big concern and the wolf is a major predator," says commissioner Klarr.
The NRC next meets in June and will vote on plans to address the U.P.'s deer population at their meeting.