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House Bill 5226: Crop Damage Permits Extended to Bear

January 29th, 2014

The DNR has developed and hunters endorsed the “Problem Bear Guidelines” in an attempt to minimize conflict between bears and humans in Michigan. This document, part of the larger Michigan Bear Management Plan, lays out recommendations and guidelines on how to prevent problems as well as how problem animals should be handled.

The first guideline states that “Landowners shall be encouraged to harvest problem animals during the open season under the authority of a hunting license or invite hunters to their lands during the open season to help resolve conflicts.”

However last week, Representative Ed McBroom and many co-sponsors introduced House Bill 5226. This bill would expand on the DNR’s authority to issue wildlife permits to take animals to prevent or control damage and nuisance.

HB 5226 would allow the DNR to issue out of season bear crop damage permits to landowners that could be used by a hunter licensed to take a bear during that calendar year. This means that a bear could be taken before or after the season on that landowner’s property. However, if the licensed bear hunter takes a bear under this subdivision, they cannot take another bear under a bear hunting license issued that calendar year.

Currently, Wisconsin has an agricultural damage shooting permit program: The Wildlife Damage and Abatement Claims Program (WDACP).  Wisconsin farmers who receive agricultural damage shooting permits are required to fill their tags by specific deadlines. They have the option to provide some of their tags to hunters who would like to help them shoot deer, bear, turkeys or geese that are damaging their crops. These permits are valid both inside and outside of the regular hunting seasons.. Farmers are not required to allow hunters to use their damage tags.

MUCC is still formulating our position on this bill and has some questions that must be addressed by the Michigan DNR, while they develop their bill analysis. Generally, we’d like to know:

  • if bear crop damage has been increasing on the landscape?
  • what crops are being affected and what time of the year?
  • is the DNR receiving official complaints to their biologists or is this hearsay?
  • will shooting bears out of season have any significant unintended impacts to the population?

What do you think?

  • Jane

    The only “crop” I can think of may be bee hives, we have a friend who has lost some hives. He has electric fencing and it seems to be keeping them away, but a determined bear might not be bothered by that.

  • MHutch

    In my 50 years of hunting and being part of the outdoor fraternity, I have not heard even ONE person complaing of bear crop damage.. I am skeptical and believe that no land that is not open to hunting during the bear season should be given a crop damage permit and I also believe that utilizing hounds to re-sensitize the bears to human contact could be a useful tool on this instance. .

  • Commercial beekeeper

    Fences don’t always do the job and are expensive to maintain for commercial beekeeping. Few comm beekeepers report their problems to the DNR because they don’t and won’t do anything for you except trying to burn you if you protect your property and livelihood. Bears are a big problem for comm beekeepers but who cares in a country that is throwing out their constitutionally protected rights more

  • Nancy0327

    I asked for a definition of crop damage and was told it would include deer and turkey food plots. I have not been able to get a straight answer if sows with cubs will be excluded.

  • Andy Evans

    I’m guessing this is mostly involving honeycombs. I’ve heard that if you run electric wires around the spot, that keeps the bears off it. If the bear is crazy enough to break through that, next step is to put a bit of bait right on the wire – gives Yogi a good zap on the nose – he departs and gets to live another day, yayyy BooBoo. ;-)

  • Andy Evans

    In a perfect world, the Legislature would fund a Bear trapping and relocation program. The bear population is down right now, up north, and it sounds like some have migrated south – which means more chance of bear damage in those areas.

    It wouldn’t be cheap though … I’m guessing you would need several Wildlife staff and at least a dozen of those big culvert traps, along with the many vehicle miles, all that adds up fast.

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