DNR briefs hunters on license changes

ESCANABA – Area hunters gathered at Bay College Thursday night to hear a presentation of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources regarding changes to the deer license structure for the 2014 season.

Under the new license structure, which takes effect March 1, the single firearm and single archery licenses have been eliminated and replaced by the single deer license, which is valid for all seasons.

For hunters who want two deer licenses, they will be required to purchase the deer combination license.

With the change that’s been approved, however, the DNR is looking for input from hunters on what regulations would fall under each license, according to Ashley Autenrieth, DNR deer program biologist and co-chair for the Upper Peninsula Deer Advisory Team (UPDAT).

Three deer advisory teams were created as a result of the 2010 Michigan Deer Management Plan to function as a direct link to the DNR Wildlife Division.

Each team is composed of members with a direct connection to issues in the corresponding region, either as private individuals affected by deer hunting and management or representatives of organizations with members or constituents in the region.

UPDAT was started in 2011, she said. “In 2008, the U.P. went to some different regulations called hunter’s choice regulations,” said Autenrieth. “When those were put in place, basically it was on a trial basis to be evaluated at a later date and time to determine whether or not they should move forward.”

The DNR let UPDAT know they would be evaluating buck management regulations when reviewing hunter’s choice roughly two years ago. UPDAT provided the DNR with their input on potential regulation options.

“We completed our evaluation of the hunter’s choice regulations and are attempting to determine what recommendation to bring forth to the Natural Resources Commission,” she said, noting the purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to allow hunters to voice their opinions on deer hunting regulations, and specifically the buck management process.

Hunters present participated in a survey to provide input as to which regulations should fall within the new deer license structure.

The meeting also covered new license fees in 2014. This is the first fee increase since 1997, said Autenrieth.

New this year is an $11 base license for all Michigan hunters ages 17 and older, $6 for youth ages 10 to 16, and $5 for seniors ages 65 and up. For a non-resident, the base license fee is $151.

The base license will be required for every resident and non-resident who hunts. It allows the purchaser to hunt small game and purchase additional hunting licenses, but is not required when purchasing a fishing license.

On top of this base license, the in-state resident single deer license fee is $20, while the in-state deer combination license is $40.

For senior citizens these equate to $8 and $28 respectively.

Autenrieth also highlighted multiple year regulations during her presentation since deer were recently approved to begin this regulation cycle in 2014.

“Multiple year regulations are simply a way to keep regulations consistent for a set period of time,” said Autenrieth. “So for deer, regulations will be set for three years at a time. We already have multiple year regulations for bear, turkey, and furbearers, and we’re moving that way for all of our managing species.”

Autenrieth said without multiple year regulation cycles, it is difficult for resource managers to understand if a regulation has a desired impact.

Ultimately the DNR Natural Resources Commission will take final action on 2014 deer hunting regulations in July.