by Scott McClallen
Three Republican lawmakers filed legislation that would extend the firearm deer hunting season from Nov. 5 to Dec. 1, giving hunters 10 extra days than the current season.
HB 5244 would direct the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to change the schedule.
The bill would only apply to firearm hunting season, and has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation.
Nick Green, public information officer for Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC), told The Center Square MUCC opposes the bill because there could be greater biological impacts in areas with a less robust deer population like the Upper Peninsula (UP), compared to the Lower Peninsula.
Chad Steward, a DNR deer specialist, told The Center Square that deer in the UP experience longer and harsher winters and a less-suitable habitat than the ones in lower Michigan.
Green said Proposal G passed in 1996 with 68.7 percent, granting the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) authority to determine the manner and method of taking wildlife game, which includes seasons.
“This is just another example of legislative overreach trying to alter and change hunting seasons and regulations,” Green said, adding that the NRC plans to analyze deer regulations in 2020 for its annual cycle, a several-month process driven by input from biologists, scientists and the public.
Green compared the process to the baiting and feeding bill that passed the House within 11 hours “with no public or stakeholder input.”
“They are not consulting scientists, they are not consulting biologists on these issues,” Green said. “They are simply coming out with an idea on a whim, putting it on paper, and trying to bull it through.”
Green said the extended dates would overlap with Ruffed Grouse hunting season, which ends on Nov. 14, a date presumably picked so Ruffed Grouse hunters wouldn’t habitat the same woods as firearm deer hunters.
Ed Golder, DNR public information officer, told The Center Square the DNR hasn’t analyzed the bill yet, so it doesn’t have a position.
Golder provided the following chart depicting the number of deer licenses and number of deer hunters year-to-date and added that the number of deer licenses is greater than the number of hunters because hunters can buy more than one kind of license.
Hunting and fishing license sales comprised about $83.5 million to fund wildlife restoration and protection of endangered and threatened species.
A 198-page MUCC report claims hunting generates $8.9 billion in Michigan economic activity.
A Michigan Technological University analysis shows the number of firearm deer-hunting licenses sold in Michigan has dropped by about 21 percent over 20 years to about 621,000 in 2017.
The report estimates that number will drop to nearly 392,500 by 2035.
The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday voted to spend $150,000 to hire sharpshooters to kill 150 deer on city and private land to curb overpopulation concerns, and last year spent about $1,200 per sterilized deer, which were released afterward.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.