The survey results were announced at Thursday’s December Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting for the possible expansion of antler point restrictions (APR) in the northwest Michigan area. It may be recalled that in 2011, a proposal was submitted to consider establishing a three-point APR in 12 counties in the northwest Lower Peninsula (Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford counties).
Beginning in August, the DNR mailed surveys to a sample of hunters who indicated on the 2011 DNR deer harvest survey that they hunted deer in one of these 12 counties. Based upon previously established criteria, a two-thirds majority was necessary for proposal passage. The survey results revealed that 69% approved the proposal which included a 71% survey response rate. The 71% response rate was considered to be “excellent” and an accurate reflection of hunter support for the measure.
In spite of the passage of the survey, a decision and formal authorization by the NRC remains necessary for the regulatory change to occur. The proposal will likely be officially made to the NRC for “information” with formal action anticipated in April or May.
If proposal passage were to occur in accordance with the anticipated time-line, the regulation change would likely go into effect beginning in 2013 for a five-year period. At the end of the five-year period, the newly authorized area would once again be surveyed. if support for the measure is once again confirmed, it would then be considered a permanent regulatory change.
This initiative attempts to build upon the success of those restrictions currently in place for Deer Management Unit (DMU) 045 in Leelanau County which requires that all antlered deer harvested in the area have at least three antler points on one side.
In is important to recognize that voluntary implementation of APR’s on privately-owned land does not require agency authorization.