Michigan Hunting Regs 2013 – “It’s Complicated”

September 8, 2013

Conservation Policy, Wildlife

No, we’re not talking about the 2009 movie of the same name, nor a Facebook relationship status.  Instead, we’re talking about the 2013 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Hunting and Trapping Digest for 2013.

The issue of complexity as it relates to Michigan hunting regulations is not a new one. Both inside and outside the Department, most agree that simplification remains an important goal and a key component of the proposed hunting and fishing license fee restructuring package.DNRhuntingDigestCover2013

It remains our view, however, that the issue should be judged on the basis of necessary complexity versus that which is unnecessary.  After all, we didn’t get to this point because wildlife biologists and conservation officers have family members printing the guides.  We got here as a result of a combination factors – some good and some, well, not so much.

Michigan’s wildlife and its habitat is incredibly diverse.  From its extreme southeast corner to its northwesterly tip, Michigan spans over 500 miles of land, rivers and lakes and nearly 7 degrees of latitude from Isle Royale to Belle Isle. This diversity of landscape and range of climate does not lend itself well to “one size fits all” wildlife management strategies.

If it were only about the science of wildlife management, the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest would probably be about one-half of its nearly 70 pages. Instead, management considerations now include numerous social, economic, agricultural and health factors for both humans and wildlife.

Then there’s the technological advancement relating to method of take.  Today’s archery equipment bears little resemblance to that which used to pour out of the Bear Archery plant in Grayling fifty years ago and an in-line muzzleloader can hardly be considered a “primitive” weapon. Despite this, consideration must be given to the wildlife management implications of each innovation. Since these technological “advancements” represent an economic opportunity for a manufacturer or retailer, seemingly each of these now need to be accepted and accommodated.

Gone are the days of a single archery deer season and a firearm deer season. Widespread support continues for special hunting seasons to encourage youth participation and accommodate the needs of the disabled and those who have made physical sacrifices in defense of our country.

As if these regulatory considerations were not enough, now add a dose of current and emerging wildlife diseases which pose potential risks not only to the health of our wildlife, but to the health of our state’s economy, as well. Did we mention that some of these diseases are concentrated in only a few areas while others are spread with little in the way of distinguishable patterns?  Each of these areas frequently requiring their own Deer Management Units (DMU).

The point in summarizing this myriad of factors is to remind ourselves that we got to this level of regulatory complexity for good reasons, most of which remain. However worthy the goal of hunting regulation simplification may be, it is far more important to get it right than to merely make it easy.

P.A.R.

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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