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Increase in hunting amid pandemic

Daily Press file photo A deer is checked at the Department of Natural Resources field office in Escanaba in this file photo. One of the unexpected outcomes of the pandemic is an increased interest in hunting and fishing. The DNR reports a significant increase in the number of licenses purchased.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — A renewed interest in hunting has dramatically increased since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit across the U.S., forcing businesses to shut down and people to stay home, according to statistics from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

So far, the DNR has issued 751,310 deer hunting licenses, compared to 584,802 licenses issued in 2019, The Daily Tribune reported. Many hunters also acquired multiple licenses for the various deer hunting seasons – antlerless, firearms, or archery.

A mid-September report from the Michigan DNR indicates that overall participation in deer hunting is up 26.97% over the same time as last year, and overall participation in hunting is up 121.61%.

While the final numbers for 2020 won’t be known until end of the year, the DNR said its biggest day for issuing hunting licenses is usually the weekend before the regular firearm deer season begins in mid-November.

The increase in hunters is good as particularly when it comes to deer hunting, there have been fewer hunters in recent years as older people “age out” and fewer younger people don’t have the time or may have other priorities. The DNR relies on hunters to manage and cull the state’s estimated 1.7 million deer population.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Kristin Phillips, chief of marketing and outreach for the Michigan DNR. “I’m trying to keep my expectations in check.”

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