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2010 Michigan deer hunting prospects

Statewide deer forecast

Deer are not evenly distributed across the state. There are considerable differences in habitat and deer numbers across Michigan’s three regions; the Upper Peninsula (UP), Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP), and Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP). In addition to this regional variability, every year hunters only a few miles apart have very different experiences observing and harvesting deer. For those looking for a place to hunt, there is no substitute for personally scouting areas in advance of a hunting trip. Maps and computer-based tools are also increasingly available to narrow in on the best locations to focus scouting efforts, including the new Mi-HUNT interactive web application available at www.michigan.gov/mihunt.

With preparation, attention to safety, and awareness of current hunting regulations, hunters can be ready to head into the field to enjoy the 86th modern Michigan deer season.

Deer populations in both northern regions have come through a mild 2009-2010 winter, but are still recovering from two relatively severe prior winters. All indications point to deer populations being mostly below goal in the UP, at or below goal in the western portion of the NLP, and above goal throughout nearly all of the SLP. Within the eastern portion of the NLP, bovine tuberculosis (TB) prevalence continues to show a declining trend over the long-term, but no detectable change has occurred over the previous five years. Goals and hunting regulations in the eastern NLP are therefore driven more by the objective to continue to reduce TB prevalence than by numbers of deer in this region. In many units within the UP and NLP, indications are that there is an overabundance of deer on private land, but lower than desired populations on public land. Special antlerless seasons and private land license quotas are used in some units to target these numbers on private land even if abundant sign and sightings do not occur on public land.

An important change in deer hunting regulations for 2010 is the modification to crossbow regulations. Crossbows are now legal to use:

· During any season in which a firearm may be used, for both big and small game, except that deer hunters in the Upper Peninsula (UP) may not use a crossbow during the Dec. 3-12 muzzleloader season without a disability permit.
· By anyone 10 years of age or older throughout the archery deer season in the Lower Peninsula.
· By any hunter age 10 and older during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 archery deer season in the UP.
· By any hunter who has obtained a crossbow permit because of a disability, including within the Dec. 1-Jan. 1 archery season and Dec. 3-12 muzzleloader season in the UP.

A free crossbow stamp, available from all license agents or online by following the “Hunting and Fishing Licenses” link at www.michigan.gov/hunting, is required in addition to a valid hunting license. From that page, hunters may also find more information on crossbows under the “Hot Hunting Topics” section.

Hunters must be aware that it is illegal to hunt deer over bait throughout the Lower Peninsula. Chronic wasting disease (CWD), an always fatal neurological disease of deer and elk, was confirmed in a privately-owned cervid (deer) facility in Kent County in August of 2008. In 2002, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) and Michigan Department of Agriculture adopted the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and Privately-Owned Cervids. The CWD plan requires a ban on all feeding and baiting of cervids within the peninsula where CWD is documented. This baiting ban is a prudent measure to help prevent the potential spread of CWD. The DNRE is continuing heightened surveillance for CWD in Kent County. All deer harvested in the nine-township CWD surveillance area must be taken to a DNRE check station and have the deer head submitted for testing.

Click link: Statewide Deer Hunting Forecast 10-1-10 to download the statewide forecast information!

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