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Michigan’s Deer Herd and Antler Point Restrictions (APR)

By Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB)
MFB Policy opposes mandatory practices on private land, and history with an APR pilot program in Leelanau county shows that a mandatory APR program does increase antler size, but it also increases farmers concerns with deer numbers overall.  Act now to help us keep the deer numbers in check.

What do you mean Antler Point Restriction (APR)?
APR means you are only able to shoot an antlered deer if it has the minimum number of points on one side.  There are two APR proposals being considered for implementation in 2014.  The first, calls for implementing a minimum 3-points on one side restriction for Cheboygan, Otsego, Crawford, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Clare, Gladwin and Oceana counties and those portions of Muskegon, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isabella, Midland, Bay and Arenac counties within Hunting and Trapping Zone 2.  With the exception of apprentice hunting licenses, mentored youth or youth hunters during the youth season, all hunters harvesting antlered deer would be required to have at least three antler points on one side.

The second proposal would require four points on one side for all of zone 3, which is Kent county and south along with portions of Muskegon, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isabella, Midland, Bay, and Arenac counties.  The same exception for youth, mentored youth and apprentice hunters would apply.

What is the process the DNR uses for setting APRs?
Under guidelines adopted, an APR will only be recommended by the DNR to the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) if there are no biological concerns and if a majority (at least 66%) of hunters surveyed support the regulation.  These surveys will be mailed soon to a statistically relevant numbers of hunters who indicated on the previous year deer harvest survey that they hunted in the proposal area.

Will landowners be mailed a survey?
No.  The DNR will not specifically be mailing landowners a survey.  A landowner may get a survey only if they indicated they hunted in the area the previous year and if they are chosen in the random sample.  However, the DNR is accepting comments from landowners via email at:  DNR-wildlife@michigan.gov

I don’t hunt, why should I care?
Everyone in Michigan has to deal with wildlife, whether a homeowner, farmer or even someone who lives in an apartment but drives a car.  In certain areas of the state, we have an over abundance of wildlife which cause tremendous damage.  Whether you consider 53,592 in car/deer accidents last year which according to the Insurance Institute are a $130 million problem for the state typically causing about $1200 in damage per accident; or you consider the MSU survey that showed fruit tree growers in Leelanau county, where a pilot APR has been going on for a number of years, sustained damage to orchards ranging between $143-$381 per acre per year.  A statistical survey has not been done for damage done to row crops and undoubtedly it would vary from county to county, but for those dealing with damage to their crops, it is real and it is significant.

What can I do?
The time to act is now. You need to contact the DNR by clicking here and sending the following message:

I ask you to oppose mandatory antler point restrictions (APRs). I support the Natural Resources Commission using sound biological science when making regulatory changes that impact our wildlife populations. There is no science that says a larger rack will produce a healthier deer herd. In fact, farmers in Leelanau County are dealing with a new pilot APR program, and are now having to take more actions than ever to mitigate crop damage. This doesn't sound like a program designed to bring deer populations down, but rather one that will grow deer numbers causing more crop damage, car/deer accidents and other concerns for Michigan residents. As a farmer, my business can't sustain additional damage.

I also am concerned about the process used by the Department of Natural Resources to gather input, as landowners are not being included in a survey to ask their opinion about a mandatory APR, and yet they will be most impacted day-in and day-out with the outcomes. This process is wrong and should be changed. I believe the DNR imposing mandatory management practices on private land is wrong for Michigan, and do not support APRs.