Regional Deer Advisory Teams Formed in Michigan

Back in 2008, MUCC went to the DNR with a proposal to bring deer management to the forefront by undergoing a planning process with stakeholders and the public. We kicked things off with a Deer Management Symposium and heard a lot of great presentations from in and out of state wildlife experts (email muccpolicy@mucc.org if you want to see any of those presentations). In early 2009, MUCC and the DNR held public scoping meetings around the state to gather thoughts from hunters, landowners, organizations, and the general public on the issues we should tackle and formed a statewide Deer Management Advisory Team that met several times to develop goals and objectives for white-tails in Michigan. The DNR did another round of input meetings in 2010 to get public comments on the draft report and hired MSU to do a survey of the public. Ultimately, what resulted was a well thought out strategic Michigan Deer Management Plan (approved by the DNR Director in May 2010)….which says very little about annual deer regulations and the operations of the DNR in relation to deer management.
But that is OK, because the next step was to form Regional Deer Advisory Teams (RDAT) that would help guide the DNR in bringing those strategic goals and objectives down to ground level. After about 18 months of anticipation, these teams have finally all met for the first time this winter.
Each RDAT (divided by the regional deer hunting zones 1-3) will hold an annual winter (post-deer season) meeting for discussion, information-sharing, and identification of priority issues or program areas for assessment as well as an annual summer (pre-deer season) meeting for finalization of input or recommendations. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting as observers, although the meeting is not open for public comment.  Questions and comments from the public will only be taken if time permits.
This structure and process is very similar in nature to the Michigan Citizen's Waterfowl Advisory Committee, which has been working effectively since the 1980's in engaging hunters in setting season dates, bag limits, and addressing other waterfowl management issues. RDAT members will also share in the education and communications process, including attending future public open houses to listen to the public's view of deer management in their region. Each RDAT will be co-chaired by a DNR Wildlife Division staff member as well as a RDAT team member elected by the team.
MSU and the DNR jointly administer a website to bring together lots of good Michigan white-tailed deer information, while there you can also check out the link below to see who is appointed to serve on the RDATs in each of the three regions as well as some of the public input they have received so far and share your own: http://deer.fw.msu.edu/involved/deerteam.php/
Stay tuned for our first impressions on the meetings as well as other deer hunting and harvest information in the coming weeks and months as we delve in further to the deer management and regulation setting process here in Michigan.
In the meantime, please share your thoughts on the kinds of deer related information you would like to see MUCC provide in future blogs.

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