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This weekend, tens of thousands of deer hunters are stalking Michigan’s woods.

In some parts of the state, hunters have to stop to count the points on a buck’s antlers before they pull the trigger.

State wildlife officials have expanded an ‘antler point restriction’ program into 12 Lower Peninsula counties.

metassus / Flickr

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's first wolf hunt is turning out to be a hot ticket.

Officials say more than 1,000 licenses were sold Saturday, leaving just 100 by evening. The hunt starts Nov. 15 and runs through the end of the year.

The Natural Resources Commission is allowing 43 wolves to be killed in seven Upper Peninsula counties. Opponents hoping to stop future hunts are gathering petition signatures for a statewide vote.

A wolf license costs $100 for a Michigan resident and $500 for a non-resident.

HSUS

Beginning tomorrow, Michigan hunters will start laying down $100 for a license to hunt wolves in the Upper Peninsula this fall.    

State wildlife officials admit they don’t know if the wolf hunt licenses will sell out.   The licenses will be available for hunters as young as 10 years old and from out of state. 

1,200 licenses are being sold for the wolf hunt which starts November 15.

It’s the first wolf hunt since the gray wolf rebounded from near extinction in the Upper Peninsula.   

But along with people buying wolf hunting licenses, there will be people working this weekend to protect the wolves.

Jill Fritz is with Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.  Her group is collecting signatures on a petition to put a challenge to the wolf hunt law on next year’s ballot.

“We’re encountering an enthusiastic public everywhere we go.  Whether we’re out in front of a library in Marquette or at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids,” says Fritz. 

The Department of Natural Resources has set a goal of killing 43 wolves in this fall’s hunt.  The hunt will take place in 3 separate zones in the Upper Peninsula.

Supporters say the U.P.’s growing wolf population is threatening livestock and household pets. Detractors complain the hunt will indiscriminately kill wolves and may make wolf attacks on livestock more common.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an overhaul to Michigan’s hunting and fishing fees. The new law raises many license fees starting next March, but greatly reduces the number of licenses available for sale.

Erin McDonough is with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. She says updating fees and streamlining the number and types of licenses was long overdue.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Gov. Snyder will answer questions on Detroit bankruptcy

"Gov. Rick Snyder has agreed to answer questions in a deposition about his decision to let Detroit file for bankruptcy protection. Attorneys for Snyder and other state officials had been resisting testifying based on executive privilege. Unions opposed to the bankruptcy say Snyder's sworn testimony is important. They say Detroit is ineligible for Chapter 9, a process that could let the city shed billions in long-term debt," the Associated Press reports.
 

Proposal to allow religious and moral objections in adoption placements

A bill being considered in the state House would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children in homes based on religious or moral beliefs. More details on the bill can be found here.

Increased hunting and fishing fees move forward

"Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to the first significant increase in hunting and fishing license fees since 1997. Legislation passed by the House will raise about $20 million more, a 40 percent boost," the Associated Press reports. More details on the fees can be found here.

State of Michigan

State wildlife officials continue to prepare for this fall’s controversial wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

The hunt is set to begin in three zones in the U.P. in mid-November.

Hunters will try to kill 43 wolves during the hunt. There are fewer than 700 adult wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

Adam Bump is with the Department of Natural Resources. He says they are still working on the logistics for the hunt, including putting hunting licenses up for sale at the end of September.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new petition drive is being launched to stop Michigan from holding a wolf hunt.

Last winter, more than a quarter million people signed petitions to put a ban on wolf hunting on the November, 2014 ballot.

But, state lawmakers passed a second law circumventing the petition, opening the door for a wolf hunt this fall. Thus the need for a second referendum petition drive.

Wayne Pacelle is the president of the Humane Society of the United States. He expects they will easily collect more than 200 thousand signatures.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Opponents of Michigan’s planned wolf hunt are training petition circulators this weekend for the effort to put a second referendum on the ballot.

A big part of the training will be to answer the question “Didn’t we already do this?”

The answer is yes….and no.

Last winter, wolf hunting opponents collected enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot and sidetrack plans for a wolf hunt this fall. But state lawmakers passed a new law this Spring and put the hunt back on track.

Wolf management units in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Sixteen wolves are targeted in area A, 19 wolves in area B, and 8 wolves in area c.
State of Michigan

Update 7/30/13 9:25a.m.

The DNR announced this morning it will delay wolf hunting license sales until September 28th. The licenses were to go on sale this Saturday, August 3rd.  Licenses will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

Rick Pluta

The state Senate is poised to vote on a measures that would circumvent a referendum on the law that allows wolf hunting. More than a hundred demonstrators showed up at the state Capitol today to protest the legislation.

It would let an appointed state board determine what species may be hunted.

Julie Baker led the ballot campaign to reverse the 1996 law that allowed hunting of mourning doves.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

State wildlife officials plan to recommend Thursday that Michigan hold a wolf hunt this Fall in the U.P.

Gray wolves in Michigan were until recently listed as an endangered species. There are about 700 wolves in Michigan. Farmers say the growing wolf population is a threat to livestock.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will receive a recommendation to kill 47 wolves, as part of a hunt, focused in three parts of the Upper Peninsula. The commission may vote next month to set the dates for a wolf hunt.

John Vucetich/Rolf Peterson / Michigan Tech

In 1973, there were around a half a dozen wolves in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Today, there are around 700, and some hunters and legislators want to establish a hunting season for the wolves.

Others want to stop that effort.

If the group "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected" succeeds in collecting enough signatures, you'll be asked to vote on a potential wolf hunt in November 2014.

The group has to collect 161,305 petition signatures by the end of March 27.

With three weeks left, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says it has already collected more than 100,000 signatures.

Commentary: Paying rational prices

Feb 13, 2013

One day in the mid-1990s, a woman I knew went off to get her hair done. When the time came to pay, however, she offered the bewildered hairdresser less than a dollar. Suddenly, she wanted to pay everyone 1940’s prices. This didn’t go over very well. But it was soon clear that she was suffering from a fast-moving form of dementia. She wasn’t to blame for her idea that she ought to pay far less than things were worth.

However, those in charge of our state are to blame if they aren’t willing to charge what things are worth, or pay for things which are good long-term investments. We have two examples of that right now.

One is the governor’s call to raise hunting and fishing licenses. This set off howls of protests from sporting groups. But Michigan has been undercharging for these licenses for years, and the state -- and specifically the Department of Natural Resources -- have been losing out on millions badly needed for conservation. Much of that money from the pockets of out-of-state hunters.

www.isleroyalewolf.org

An animal welfare group has the green light to start collecting signatures in its attempt to stop a new law opening Michigan to a wolf hunt.

On Thursday, a state board approved petitions drafted by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

Michael Hodge is their attorney. He said there is no evidence that wolves are a problem in the Upper Peninsula.

“So it’s a hunting season for trophy hunters who want to kill an animal that just basically reappeared in the state of Michigan in recent years,” said Hodge.

Stateside: What Upper Peninsula wolf hunt means for Michigan

Jan 14, 2013
Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

Gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula are a step closer to being hunted this fall.

A new state law designating wolves as game animals in Michigan passed late last year.

Adam Bump of Michigan Department of Natural Resources spoke with Cyndy about the implications of hunting wolves.

“The focus was to give the DNR the full range of options for wolf management," said Bump.

Bump noted the conflicts the wolves created.

“There certainly is a lot of conflict that exists surrounding wolves. We’ve had consistent depredations where wolves are praying on livestock.”

Bobcat hunting season

Jan 11, 2013
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bobcat hunters in Northern Michigan are starting out with a plentiful harvest in the Upper Peninsula this season.

Debbie Munson Badini is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She says, “Right now it looks like the bobcat population in the northern Lower Peninsula is stable; whereas in the U.P. the bobcat population is actually starting to go up after a few years where we were seeing a possible decline.”

USFWS Midwest

The Michigan Legislature is moving closer to allowing a hunting season for gray wolves.  The state Senate voted last week to make the wolf a game species.  Now, the bill goes to the House.

There are around 700 wolves in Michigan, mostly in the western Upper Peninsula.

If the Legislature makes the wolf a game species, then wildlife officials will still have to justify that a hunt is necessary and that it won’t harm wolf recovery. 

Under state law, there can’t be a recreational wolf hunt for any old reason.

opencage.info

Update 5:20 p.m.

A Michigan Court of Appeal ruling today upholds a ban on exotic swine breeds. It was adopted in an effort to halt the spread of feral swine that are tearing up farms and woodlands.

Opponents of the state’s new ban on about 130 swine breeds said they are not giving up their fight as April 1 approaches.

That’s when the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment will start to enforce the ban.

Scott Everett represents breeders and hunting ranches that are regulated by the order. He predicted there will be unintended consequences once it takes effect.

“The DNR is using the invasive species act to define certain animals that are invasive species and you can’t just say it’s only those animals that are on the hunting preserve operations – it’s all the swine that the DNR  thinks are invasive species," said Everett.

He said it will also affect hundreds of boutique farms in Michigan that raise animals for specialty meats for high-end restaurants.

There are still other legal actions pending challenging how the order will be enforced, and whether the state is illegally seizing property.

10:10 a.m.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the order that outlaws raising and possessing some breeds of exotic swine.

Hunting ranch operators and breeders challenged the order by the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The state will start enforcing the ban in less than a month.

The tradition of hunting in Michigan

Mar 1, 2012
Grant Fry

Grant Fry of Lake Orion sent us a story as part of our culture project on the importance of hunting in his family.

Today is the first day mentored hunting licenses are available in Michigan for children 10 years-old and younger.

Fry shared his reflections on hunting in Michigan as a boy and a man (share your story here):

As a boy growing up in Northern Michigan, hunting season, especially firearms deer season was a tradition.

Going hunting that first time and taking your first deer were as important as getting your drivers’ license. The public schools closed as teachers and students went into the woods.

"Mister" is dropped in deer camp and you can address all the adults by their first name. The expectation is you are a man and you are expected to do a man's work and take on a man's responsibility.

That has been and continues to be passed down through the generations.

I've been out hunting on opening day of firearms season for 42 years.

The anticipation builds up at dinner the night before-listening and telling stories of past hunts and past hunters. Then, there’s getting up at 4:30 in the morning to a big breakfast and lots of coffee.

Seeing the joy on your son's face as he takes his first deer and appreciates the transition he's made and seeing him accept the responsibilities of becoming a man.

Work has forced me out of Northern Michigan.

I've lost contact with some friends. My two boys are even more distributed due to out of state work and can't always make it back to hunt.

It is a loss.

Michigan's archery season began this morning.
Charles Dawley / flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's new hunting program for children will start this year, with licenses on sale starting March 1.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the program aimed at introducing children under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing.

It's called the Mentored Youth Hunting program.

A recent law eliminated the minimum hunting age, allowing kids under 10 to hunt with an adult who's at least 21 years old. Under the rules for the new youth program, the adult must have previous hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license.

A Mentored Youth Hunting license will cost $7.50. Details about hunting rules are posted on the DNR's website.

user metassus / Flickr

As of last Friday, wolves in Michigan are no longer a federally protected “endangered species.”

On December 21, 2011 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced in Washington that Gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have exceeded recovery goals and are stable enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List.

The current populations in each state are:

USFS

In 2010, a man successfully sued the U.S. Forest Service saying the agency did not incorporate enough land for quiet recreation in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

He said more land for these activities should have been set aside in the USFS' 2006 forest management plan.

Here's how the plaintiff, Kurt Meister, explained it in a story by Michigan Radio back in 2010:

“This case isn’t about hunting. It’s not about gun hunting. It’s not about stopping gun hunting. It’s simply saying it shouldn’t be everywhere. And if you make it everywhere, you’re affecting other people’s rights.”

In that report, Interlochen Public Radio's Bob Allen explained that "what Kurt Meister is asking the court to do is set aside areas designated as non-motorized for quiet recreation.

Those are places where, on paper, the forest plan says a person can expect to be isolated from the sights and sounds of other humans.

But on the ground, Meister says, what happens is that snowmobile trails and cross country ski trails run side by side."

Today, the U.S. Forest Service released its revised plan in response to the 2010 decision by the federal court.

The Forest Service says it will:

  • Continue to allow gun hunting in the previously designated Semiprimitive Nonmotorized and Primitive areas of the Huron-Manistee National Forests in accordance with regulations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Continue to allow snowmobiling on designated trails within the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

 

Ken Arbogast of the U.S. Forest Service says for the public visiting the national forest, very little will change.

What's changed, he said, is the description of these areas. The plan now describes the areas in contention as areas that are "more secluded" and "less roaded" - but it does not leave the impression that noise from human activity will be absent.

The Huron-Manistee forest covers about 1 million acres of land. The land in contention covers about 70,000 acres.

USDA.gov

Officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say the harvest from the 2011 firearm deer season "appears to have increased slightly compared to the 2010 season."

From a Michigan DNR press release:

Experiences can differ widely even within regions, but DNR biologists estimate the harvest compared to 2010 was unchanged to up perhaps 10 percent across the Upper Peninsula, likely increased in the Northern Lower Peninsula by as much as 10 percent, and the southern Lower Peninsula appeared down 5 to 10 percent.

The statement said deer populations in the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula are not as abundant as they were in the 1990's, but they seem to be increasing.

The crackle of gunfire can be heard today across Michigan as the state’s firearm deer season opens.   

For the first time in three years, hunters in the Lower Peninsula are legally using piles of food to lure deer. Deer baiting was temporarily banned after a Kent County deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in 2008. The ban was lifted earlier this year after no more deer tested positive for the disease.   

Dean Molnar is with the Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division.  He says baiting can be effective if done properly.   

“I think in some particular areas it will be beneficial for folks to be able to see deer and harvest them…especially in areas where (the deer) have minimal habitat," says Molnar.   

Something else new this year, hunters are getting younger. The state is permitting ten and eleven year olds to hunt deer, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. The previous age limit was twelve.

sandhill crane
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today across Michigan many businesses are closed, absenteeism is up and even state legislators are taking the day off. This is Michigan’s unofficial state holiday, the first day of firearm deer season.  

Hunter Gabe Van Wormer and I recently went walking through some woods just north of Lansing. The area is hemmed in with suburban neighborhoods. But there are deer in these woods.  

Pure Michigan

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would open more state owned land to horseback riding. But the proposal could also end up costing Michigan millions of dollars in federal grant money.   

The state House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation committee is scheduled to discuss the horseback riding bill Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor says opening up more state parkland to horseback riding could increase tourism. 

But Erin McDonough says the state could lose $25 to 30 million in federal grant money. McDonough is the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. The federal grant money is intended to promote hunting and McDonough says increasing horseback riding would negatively affect land the state bought for hunting. 

"There’s a way to have a balance.  And there’s a way for everybody to have recreational opportunities on all those lands," says McDonough.  

McDonough says supporters of the bill do not believe federal officials will follow through with a threat to cut the grant funding.  

Michigan has approximately 80 thousand recreational horseback riders using around 25 hundred miles of trails around the state.

Jerry Oldenettel / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan wildlife biologists say two deer in Cass County have been diagnosed with an often-fatal viral disease.

The deer tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD.

The Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday the disease is transmitted by a biting fly. It causes extensive bleeding. Infected deer lose their appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, develop a high fever and finally lose consciousness.

It's not believed that humans can get EHD.

DNR wildlife chief Russ Mason says there is no known way to treat or control the disease. Michigan has had several deer die-offs from EHD as far back as 1955. The latest covered six counties last year.

Mason says outbreaks are happening more frequently, possibly because climate change is driving the biting flies farther north.

MI DNR

It's up to the Michigan State legislature to determine what game is available for hunting in Michigan.

In late 2010, the legislature opened up the possibility of a moose hunt in Michigan.

They charged the Moose Hunting Advisory Council with developing recommendations on whether or not a moose hunt should be conducted. (You can let them know what you think by dropping them a line - moosecomments@michigan.gov).

The council is expected to present their report to the Michigan DNR's Natural Resources Commission next Thursday (September 15). The Associated Press reports that the Moose Hunting Advisory Council will recommend a moose hunt of 10 bull moose.

The NRC will take the recommendation and decide whether a hunt will occur.

But ahead of all that, the Inland Conservation Committee with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians voted to oppose the hunt.

Here's part of a statement from the tribe:

At its Aug. 1 meeting, the committee cited biological concerns of a hunt’s impact on a fragile and uncertain population of 433 moose. The proposed hunt would take 10 bull moose in the fall after the rutting season, according to news accounts. The Department of Natural Resources was officially notified of the decision last week.

The statement says "under the terms of the 2007 Inland Consent Decree, the committee's opposition effectively ends Michigan’s bid for a moose hunt, for now."

A spokeswoman for the DNR said the tribe's position will have no effect on the report going to the Natural Resources Commission next week.

If the NRC votes to establish a moose hunt in Michigan, the question of whether or not the tribe's opposition prohibits a hunt will have to be answered.

 The state Department of Natural Resources says it will move slowly to enforce a ban on wild boar species that takes effect at the end of this week. The order declares some breeds of swine dangerous invasive species.

Tee Poole / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has lifted a ban on putting bait out for deer. From October 1st through January 1st the practice will again be allowed in most counties in the lower peninsula.

Baiting will not be allowed in Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle counties - the state's six county area known as the  Bovine Tuberculosis Zone.

Officials at the Michigan DNR put the baiting ban in place in 2008 after biologists found the state's first case of Chronic Wasting Disease in a deer at a private deer breeding facility in Kent County.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal brain disease similar to mad cow disease, can be spread from deer to deer through saliva and blood. The disease started out west in elk and made its way into some Midwestern deer herds. Wisconsin had to cull big herds of deer to get the disease under control.

Banning a practice such as baiting, a practice that brings many deer together in one spot as they eat or lick the bait, was thought to be the best way to prevent the spread of CWD in Michigan - apparently, it worked.

From the Michigan DNR press release:

At the time, the Department followed protocol as outlined in the state's emergency response plan for CWD and immediately banned baiting and feeding of white-tailed deer in the Lower Peninsula. The NRC then passed regulations making the ban permanent, but said it would reconsider the ban in three years, giving the DNR adequate time to perform disease testing and surveillance in the state for CWD.

In the three-year period, the DNR tested thousands of white-tailed deer for CWD, but did not detect another case.

So in a 4-3 vote by the Natural Resources Commission, the three-year old ban was lifted. It will be reconsidered in 2014.

In the Grand Rapids Press, Howard Meyerson writes that hunters have been split on the issue. Around half in favor of baiting and half against it. Meyerson writes that in 2008, many hunters were glad the ban was put in place:

They said it altered deer behavior and pulled deer off their lands and onto others where people baited. That, in turn, prompted them to resort to “defensive baiting.”

On the flip side, however, others are crowing.

“The good guys won,” said Jeff DeRegnaucourt, an avid hunter from Rockford who was glad to see the ban lifted.

But the nation’s top professional wildlife biologists probably wouldn’t see it that way. Mason is one who steadfastly urged keeping the ban in place. Steve Schmitt, the DNR’s wildlife disease expert, was another.

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