ESCANABA - A regional meeting of the recently established Conservation Coalition took place on May 22 with updates on issues with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). The 14 items discussed covered everything from actual reports to hunting quota recommendations.
Some of the topics under consideration are as follows:
Spring Turkey Hunting Season concluded yesterday. There had been an allocation of 8,000 licenses issued for hunt unit "M", the Upper Peninsula, and about sixty percent of those were sold. The 4,794 hunters represented an approximate increase over last year by 9.4%.
The reported hunting success has been varied with some remaining strong and others seeing a continued significant drop in marking birds.
Representatives of UP wild turkey interest groups met in March to discuss license quotas and came away with a consensus to keep all quotas for the spring and fall hunts as they were in 2011. The results from the year will be reviewed next spring at which time a recommendation of whether or not to make a change will take place.
Area biologists have made their recommendations for Antlerless Deer License Recommendations for various Deer Management Units (DMUs) during the 2012 fall hunting season.
Some changes have taken place including an increase in quotas to Deer Management Units previously shut down due to low populations.
DMU 055 in Menominee County will see an increase in Public Land Permits from the current 2,000 to 3,000, whereas private land quotas will remain the same at 9,000.
DMU 121 covers the Garden Peninsula and has been closed to antlerless deer hunting. Biologists have recommended to re-open the DMU with quotas for private land set at 800 and public land at 400.
DMU 155 in Delta County will see an increase in public land quotas only and in the amount of 200.
DMU 152, which is mostly Marquette County, will see an increase of antlerless deer hunting licenses of 50 and only for private land applications.
DMU 255 which etches into northern Menominee, western Delta, eastern Dickinson and southern Marquette counties, will also see a recommended increase of 200 public land antlerless deer hunting licenses.
The UP (Region) Deer Advisory Team (RDAT) will meet in Newberry tomorrow. They are working towards recommendations in hunting regulations that will further advance the age class structure of buck deer, moving a higher proportion to the 2.5 year old age class and beyond.
With the recent find of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in northern Wisconsin, the MDNR is looking to re-vamp the reaction plan for CWD to scale down the recommended size of a management zone, should the disease be found here. Current policy calls for the end of all baiting and feeding of wildlife across the UP.
2012 Black Bear hunting quotas for the Carney and Gwinn units will see a reduction of approximately 30% from those issued in 2011. Recent information from the tetracycline study, used as a population indicator, show a reduction of bear across the UP. Once stabilized, quotas will be re-adjusted.
Upland Game Bird Surveys were completed this spring and the results will be published as soon as completed.
UP otter and beaver trapping seasons ended on April 15. This year, submission of the skull was mandatory for bobcat, fisher, marten and otter. The skull provides a means to more closely assess sex and age class distribution and monitor population growth or decline.
The topic of most interest that evening was regarding the Gray Wolf.
Since being de-listed as an endangered species, the MDNR has issued nine problem wolf control permits in Baraga, Mackinac, Iron and Ontonagon counties. Seven wolves have been killed on these permits, and 5 additional wolves were killed under Public Act 290 (wolves that are doing or about to do damage to livestock).
A wolf forum is scheduled to take place in St. Ignace on June 28 . It was suggested to move it further west to address the issue in the area of highest wolf concentration, but it remains as the most central location considering all those invited to the session.
Question of conversion to a game species was raised and to date no bills have come forward to the State Legislature, although UP Rep. Matt Huuki has assembled a bill. Comment that the MDNR has asked the legislature to not support such a bill was later clarified to be that they do support that which is to be offered by Huuki, and are also watching the reaction to law changes made by the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin to see if objection is raised and who the objecting parties might be. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had previously stopped the de-listing six times, using specific points not met in standing regulations as a failure to comply in the process.
Lastly, comments made at the January meeting of the Western U.P. Citizen's Advisory Council (WCAC) about the source of funding for a Snowshoe Hare Study were clarified.
There was no money allocated from the MDNR Fish & Game Fund for this project that totaled more than $100,000. It was funded through a cooperative effort by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Michigan State University (MSU). A segment from MSU, regarding their donation of administrative overhead, was used to apply for matching funds through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which covered the remaining balance of the study.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.