DNR approves more deer licenses in Alcona County

Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission has approved its antlerless deer license quotas, and hunters in Alcona County will have more chances to take a deer.

The Department of Natural Resources will allow 35,900 public-land and 119,100 private-land licenses in the northern Lower Peninsula, according to a release. Both are increases from last year, when the DNR allotted 30,900 public-land and 115,500 private-land licenses to the same area. While private-land antlerless licenses will decrease by roughly 25 percent overall throughout the state, Northeast Michigan’s Deer Management Unit 487 will see no change.

Deer Management Unit 487 includes Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties, according to DNR regulations.

The management unit will get 30,000 private-land licenses this fall, the same number made by the DNR in 2012, Northern Lower Michigan Wildlife Outreach Technician Katie Keen said.

For public-land hunters, Alcona County’s quota will increase by 1,000 over last year to 5,000, according to the quota list. Alpena County will get 2,000, Montmorency 5,000 and Presque Isle 3,000, all unchanged from 2012.

These numbers are based on recommendations from deer biologists throughout the state, taking disease, population models, past quotas and hunter satisfaction rates into account, Keen said.

“We’re kind of trying to balance all these numbers, and seeing how the quota lines up with it,” she said.

Biologists make their recommendations to the Natural Resources Commission, a seven-member, governer-appointed board that decides DNR hunting and fishing regulations, Keen said. The commission then sets the quotas after taking public comment.

In Northeast Michigan, quotas are driven largely by the presence of bovine tuberculosis in the deer herd, Keen said. Biologists want hunters to thin the population, eliminating infected deer and making it harder for them to spread the persistent disease.

“If you look at the 2013 quota list and look at all the other counties compared to the TB areas, we have many more opportunities in TB areas,” she said.

Deer Management 452, an area around the four corners of Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties where the most TB-infected deer are found, will get 2,000 public-land licenses, same as in 2012.

Hunters in Southern Michigan’s public and private lands will see fewer chances to bag an antlerless deer, according to a DNR release. This is due to concerns over adult deer mortality and lower reproductive success from the prolonged winter. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is also partly to blame, as recent fatal outbreaks in Southern Michigan have brought deer populations closer to DNR goals.

Those looking for more information about deer hunting regulations and management goals can visit www.michigan.gov/deer, Keen said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.