DNR encouraging more doe hunting to control deer population

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Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:53 AM EDT
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MICHIGAN (WNEM) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging hunters to target more doe with their scopes, rifles, and bows this hunting season.

In an open letter from the DNR, the department said hunters are not taking enough does during the season to control the growth of deer herds in many areas.

Since 2000, the DNR says hunters have hunted more does than bucks in the state of Michigan in just one season, 2009. That year, hunters took 220,913 antlerless deer compared to 215,104 antlered deer. For comparison, the DNR says states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana typically kill between eight and 25 percent more does than bucks. By going off that measurement, the DNR says the Lower Peninsula should be killing between 43,000 and 68,000 more antlerless deer.

By not killing more antlerless deer, the DNR says it creates a troubling trend. The gap between antlered and antlerless deer is widening, with harvests of antlerless deer decreasing by 28 percent from the early 2000s to today. For comparison, antlered harvest has only declined by about 11 percent over this time.

The other impact often associated with high deer numbers is the number of deer-vehicle collisions. According to traffic crash data, in 2022 there were nearly 59,000 reported deer-vehicle collisions, the highest number since 2009. Nearly 20 percent of the recorded collisions in Michigan involved a white-tailed deer.

As a result, the DNR is reminding everyone of recent changes to allow for better deer population control. In the Lower Peninsula, hunters have been able to use either tag on their combo license to take an antlerless deer during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons, which was made back in 2020 after 65 percent of Michigan hunters did not purchase an antlerless license. In addition, getting an antlerless license has become easier over the years. Hunters no longer have to enter a drawing to receive one of these licenses, nor do they have to buy an additional license to go hunt at their cabin up north.

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