Yesterday the Natural Resource Commission met in Lansing with a large public turnout. As recommendations for the 2017 bear regulations were discussed and public appearances voiced concerns over CWD, it was by no means a short day! If you missed the meeting and would like to catch watch was said, check out the MUCC Facebook page where we streamed live at the NRC meeting, or read on to catch a glimpse of what happened!
The morning started out with a meeting of the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee, with presentations from Linda Walter of Parks giving a recap of the last year at the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) in Detroit, which hosted more than 100,000 visitors in its first full year of operations. The committee also reviewed the management plan for the Menominee River State Recreation Area in the western UP, which is the only park or recreation area in the state to be managed collaboratively with another state, Wisconsin. The recreation area includes 17 miles of the Menominee River frontage and Piers Gorge, as well as areas offering camping, hiking, boating and fishing, and additional trails for ATV and snowmobile uses. The recreation area was established in 2011, with a land purchase from a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. The committee passed a resolution recommending approval of the management plan.
Updates were given by Ron Olson, Parks and Recreations Chief, regarding the exploratory drilling in the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, and Vicki Anthes of Parks gave an overview of the Park’s strategic planning process. PRD is seeking comments regarding the draft plan from advisory groups, PRD staff and the department management team, as well as the general public and stakeholders. The hope is to finalize the plan by June. Matt Lincoln of Parks reviewed the 18 applications from the Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Ami Van Antwerp of Marketing and Outreach gave a presentation on PRD marketing goals.
After lunch, the Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries met, Chief Jim Dexter gave an update on the Black Lake sturgeon season, which took place on February 4, and lasted a whopping 66 minutes. With more than 332 anglers who participated, a total of seven fish for all participants was allocated, however this year the allocation was exceeded by one fish, making a total of eight fish taken, which most likely was due to the time it took to notify fisherman around the lake that the season had ended. Stocking of lake trout in Lake Michigan will also remain at the same level this year as compared to last year, with the only difference occurring in location. Some of the trout stocked in the mid-lake reef will be moved from Wisconsin waters to Michigan waters.
Presentations were also given on the 2017-18 migratory game bird hunting seasons by Barb Avers of Wildlife. The 2017 bag limits for geese include: Canada goose daily limits which allow a maximum of 5 birds a day through September 1-30, and a maximum of 3 birds during the remainder of the season. Daily limits for white-fronted allow for a maximum of 5 birds in aggregate with dark geese (dark geese include: Canada, white-fronted, and brant). Brant daily limits allow a maximum of 1 bird in aggregate with dark geese. For snow, blue, and Ross’ daily limits there is a maximum of 20 birds.
The season dates and bag limits for 2017-18 in the North Zone include: September 1-30, dark goose aggregate daily limits total 5, only 1 of which can be a brant. Light goose daily limits total 20. Then from October 1 through December 16, dark goose aggregate daily limits total 5, only 3 of which can be Canada geese, and 1 of which can be a brant. While the light goose daily limit remains at 20.
2017-18 season dates and bag limits being proposed for the Middle Zone include: September 1-30, dark goose aggregate daily limits total 5, only 1 of which can be a brant. Light goose daily limits total equal 20. Then from October 7 through December 22 the dark goose aggregates daily limit equals 5, only 3 of which can be Canada geese, and 1 of which can be a brant. Light goose daily limits remain at 20.
For the 2017-18 South Zone, from September 1-30, dark goose aggregate daily limits total 5, only 1 of which can be a brant. Light goose daily limits total equal 20. From October 14 through December 10 and December 30, 31 and January 27 through February 12, 2018 the dark goose aggregates daily limit equals 5, only 3 of which can be Canada geese and 1 of which can be a brant. Light goose daily limits remain at 20.
2017 Duck Season daily limits include: 6 ducks combined consisting of: Mallards, which has a maximum of 4 birds total, and a maximum of 2 hens. Wood duck and Scaup, has a maximum of 3 birds. Redhead and Canvasback have a maximum of 2 birds each, American black duck has a maximum of 2 birds, the Northern pintail has a maximum of 1 bird and all other ducks total 6 birds. Daily limits also include 5 mergansers combined, a maximum of 2 hooded mergansers allowed.
Date recommendations for the 2017 duck season by zone are as follows: North Zone – September 30 through November 26, and then again from December 2 through December 3. Middle Zone dates include: October 7 through December 3 and then again from December 16 through December 17. The South Zone dates include: October 14 through December 10 and then again from December 30 through December 31.
Kevin Swanson from the Wildlife Division previewed recommendations for the 2017-18 bear season. The Division is recommending a state-wide harvest goal of 1,530 bears, which is a 168 bear increase compared to last year. Bear nuisance complaints continue to persist and climb in the northern LP. Complaints range from bluff charges and attacks on dogs to bird feeder destruction. Recommendations would include a complete ban on chocolate, due to concerns of potentially poisoning bears and other wildlife. MUCC supports, although we would like to see this regulated by volume or quantity rather than an outright ban, but we hope that the DNR Law Division will still use their discretion in the field in the first year of a new regulation. In addition, the cap on non-resident bear licenses would go up from 2% to 5% under the Departments proposal. There continues to be an outstanding issue on whether bait barrels could be used on public lands and Commercial Forest Lands. Since 2009, MUCC has been opposed to bait barrels on public land, the DNR is not recommending the use of barrels on these lands at this time. The Commission asked the department to provide justification on the quotas in three management units -- Gwinn, Red Oak and Baldwin – for consideration at next month’s meeting, when a final decision should be made on bear regulation
Following the bear regulation discussion overviews on Finance and Operations were given, as well as awards received from multiple divisions, and an overview of legislation that could affect the Department. In addition, Deputy Moritz announced that on Feb. 2, Director Creagh signed a memo that eliminates a 10 percent discount that had been in place for all-species non-resident fishing licenses. The memo also discontinues free replacement licenses. These changes will go into effect with the new license year, which begins March 1. Public comments were heard from more than 15 people discussing, APR, CWD and the bear regulations. If you want more information on the NRC meeting items check out http://www.michigan.gov/nrc or again check out the video we live streamed on our MUCC Facebook page!