Decision on September 11-MUCC, Michigan Bow Hunters Association, and Quality Deer Management Association stood up for deer hunters when voicing their concerns about a proposed change to deer management assistance permits (DMAPs), which would allow DMAP holders to use firearms during archery season to fill their permits.
DMAPS are requested of the DNR by landowners experiencing significant agricultural and horticultural damage and are granted to landowners in a limited quantity, which they then must buy for $10 each (in addition to their base license and deer hunting license) and can be filled by any of up to 3* shooters named on the permit application. [*this has been corrected from an earlier version]
Certainly, we believe that the use of firearms to fill DMAPs during our traditional archery season may impact deer hunters experience in the woods and fields by having more pressure on the deer, additional noise, and spooking them much earlier in the fall. Additionally, there are safety concerns because archery hunters are not required to wear hunter orange and thus a landowner using a firearm on one property may not know what or who is on the other side of the fence line.
The NRC has delayed a decision on changes and our groups were invited to the table to be part of ongoing discussions with Michigan Farm Bureau, the DNR, and the Natural Resources Commission about how we can offer some flexibility to agricultural landowners who are experiencing significant crop damage during the regular deer seasons. Currently, DNR biologists are allowed to grant the use of firearms during the first two weeks of archery season under DMAPs, but this authority has been extremely limited in its use. Agricultural landowners can also receive out of season deer damage permits where a firearm must be used, but are only valid outside of the October 1-January 1 deer seasons and landowners can have up to 15 shooters.
MUCC expects a revised proposal to be issued soon that would expand the window of time that a farmer may use a firearm during archery seasons, but also gives some assurances to hunters that this use of firearms is only deployed in a limited number of circumstances where the landowners have tried other options available to them. This proposal would also be only in effect for a small number of counties in Northwest Michigan, where orchard owners and other specialty crop producers have found archery to be a limited tool in addressing deer damage issues.
The draft proposal (which is still subject to change) is currently suggesting that a pilot program be created for Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Charlevoix and Grand Traverse counties and agricultural landowners in these counties must fall into one of these three categories before getting the ability to use a firearm to fill their DMAPs:
- They have attempted to use archery hunters in recent years.
- The size of the field, lay of the land, or some other factor precludes successful use of archery hunters.
- They have used out of season deer damage permits earlier in that calendar year and are still experiencing issues.
The NRC is scheduled to make a decision on the Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment 10 at their monthly meeting on September 11 at MSU’s Diagnostic Center.
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