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DNR launches Deer Management Initiative to tackle contemporary challenges

Interested in participating? Apply by Jan. 31

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, is initiating a comprehensive Deer Management Initiative aimed at evaluating and responding to present-day deer management challenges. The initiative seeks to develop recommendations to address these challenges and ensure the sustainable and healthy management of deer populations and their habitats across the state.

In the Lower Peninsula, the DNR faces significant hurdles in managing deer populations due to declining hunter numbers and how that affects traditional management. Continued changes in land-use patterns – with a high percentage of privately owned land, which can limit access to hunting lands – further exacerbate these challenges. Additionally, bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease are established and affecting deer populations in some areas of the region.

In the Upper Peninsula, habitat concerns, changing weather patterns and a diverse array of predators present different challenges from those in the Lower Peninsula. These combinations of factors have not been experienced in deer management in recent years.

A comprehensive and inclusive approach is critical. The DNR will actively engage with stakeholders from various natural resources organizations as well as tribal partners to develop recommendations that acknowledge these challenges and work toward improved deer management in the state. The DNR is also seeking to involve unaffiliated individuals who share concerns about deer management to encourage a far-reaching, representative discussion.

"The Deer Management Initiative process is poised to guide recommendations and lay a framework for future deer management changes. We are looking forward to working with our traditional stakeholder organizations and partners, while also welcoming creative, new voices. It’s important that none of us are tethered to a single idea, that we are all willing to explore novel and diverse solutions to enhance our deer herd and effectively address the challenges ahead," said DNR deer management specialist Chad Stewart.

“We’ll be developing two separate groups, one for each peninsula, since the challenges in each area are unique," Stewart said. "Our focus with each group will be to pull together people with different perspectives and experiences but a common passion for improving Michigan's deer herd for future generations.”

Those interested in participating in this vital initiative are invited to submit their applications at the link below. The application period will remain open through Jan. 31, and successful applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.

Apply for DMI ►

To submit your thoughts on topics that the groups should consider, or ideas for improvement, please email DNR-Wildlife@Michigan.gov, including the term “DMI” in the subject line.

An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Deer: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, is initiating a comprehensive Deer Management Initiative aimed at evaluating and responding to present-day deer management challenges. Those interested in participating are invited to submit their applications online by Jan. 31.

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