DNR News: Early antlerless season, Les Cheneaux fish survey, shooting range info

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 16, 2019

A white-tailed deer in the Michigan forest

Good luck to hunters getting ready for this weekend, and please remember to put safety first!

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Don’t miss early antlerless firearm deer season this weekend

A DNR employee talks with a group of children and an adult while examining a deer at a deer check station

Hunters eager to get a start on Michigan’s deer seasons will take to the woods this weekend, Sept. 21-22, for the early antlerless firearm season – open on private lands in select Lower Peninsula deer management units. Page 40 of the 2019 Hunting Digest shows open DMUs.

“If you’re hunting in an area with high deer numbers or a disease-prevalent area, consider taking a doe this year to do your part in managing Michigan’s deer herd,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer, elk and management specialist.

Stewart said that since does are the drivers of the deer population, doe harvest is key to herd management.

“It’s important to consider increasing doe harvest in areas with stable or over-populated deer numbers in order to keep deer numbers within healthy population ranges,” Stewart said. “This is especially crucial in known disease areas where deer numbers often need to be lowered to help minimize the future spread of the disease.”

To participate in this season, hunters must have a private-land antlerless deer license issued for the DMU in which they are hunting, or a deer management assistance permit valid for that DMU. A deer kill tag issued under the mentored youth license must be used to harvest an antlerless deer during the antlerless-only seasons.

Leftover antlerless deer licenses will be sold until license quotas are met in each DMU. Check license availability.

Hunters in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone also have the option to purchase a 40% discounted private-land antlerless license, but this license will expire Nov. 3.

Antlerless deer licenses can be purchased online or wherever licenses are sold.

Hunters interested in having their deer checked can see DNR deer check station hours and availability at Michigan.gov/DeerCheck. Anyone taking a deer in Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle or Roscommon counties is encouraged to submit their deer for bovine tuberculosis surveillance, too.

Questions? For more information, visit Michigan.gov/Deer or contact DNR Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453.

Improved DNR shooting ranges ready for hunting season

DNR employees and other supporters of the Echo Point Shooting Range gather to cut the ribbon on recent upgrades

With early hunting seasons just getting underway, shooting ranges around the state have been preparing for hunters who need a place to sight in their rifles or practice firearm or archery shooting.

As part of its ongoing efforts to provide safe, accessible, user-friendly shooting facilities, the DNR recently has made improvements at several of its ranges. The federal Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman-Robertson Act) – funded by hunters and sport shooters who buy firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and hunting licenses – helps make such shooting range improvements possible.

The Echo Point Shooting Range at Allegan State Game Area, located at 3694 Monroe Road in Allegan, reopened to the public Friday after being closed for several months for range improvements.

“Upgrades at Echo Point include new shooting structures with sound-abatement measures, new accessible tables and benches, accessible pathways that connect the parking area to the target line and target retrieval, a new vault toilet and perimeter fencing,” said DNR shooting range specialist Lori Burford. “This unstaffed range now includes four stations at 100 yards, four stations at 10 yards and four stations at 50 yards.”

The improvements, totaling over $600,000, were made possible through grants from the federal Wildlife Restoration Program and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Occasional, short-term closure of the range may be necessary for minor adjustments to make the site fully operational.

Burford said that the DNR also made renovations at some of its staffed shooting ranges over the summer. The Dansville (Ingham County), Ortonville (Lapeer County) and Sharonville (Jackson County) ranges all have new concrete sidewalks downrange and accessible concrete parking spaces to enhance safety and accessibility.

Learn more about DNR shooting ranges and search for other ranges around the state at Michigan.gov/ShootingRanges.

For more information about the Echo Point range improvements, contact Lori Burford, 989-600-9114.

Les Cheneaux Islands fish community survey starts next week

The Michigan DNR's research vessel Tanner, stationed in Alpena,.

In September 1969, the DNR began a netting survey of the channels and embayments (coastline recesses that form bays) of the Les Cheneaux Islands, located along the Lake Huron shoreline on the Upper Peninsula’s southeastern tip. For 50 years since, the DNR has returned to repeat the survey using the same gear types and same approximate sampling stations to detect changes in fish populations. This year’s survey gets underway next week.

“We’ll count each fish by species and weigh and measure them,” said Dave Fielder, a fisheries research biologist out of Alpena. “We’ll also collect spines from some species to allow us to age the fish, which helps determine growth and mortality rates.”

The data collected will be used to understand the health of different fish populations and examine their trends over time. Survey findings also contribute to decisions about fishing regulations.

Additionally, this work is key to examining how local yellow perch populations are responding to cormorant management efforts. Cormorants are large, migratory birds that feed on fish, including perch. Since 2004, the DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services have partnered on cormorant control efforts to benefit the yellow perch fishery.

A federal ruling in 2016 suspended cormorant control, but efforts were partially reinstated in 2018. As the cormorant population changes, fish population monitoring is critical to documenting both the effects and benefits of continued cormorant control.

“These long-term data series are valuable because they chronicle the ever-changing fish community and food webs,” said Neal Godby, a fisheries biologist out of Gaylord. “This, plus an annual creel survey, provides most of the information needed to help inform decisions about fisheries management.”

Staff from the DNR’s Alpena Fisheries Research Station will use the R/V Tanner to conduct the survey, which takes about a week to complete. Results will be presented in an April 2020 public presentation in Cedarville.

Questions? Contact Dave Fielder, 989-356-3232, ext. 2572 or Neal Godby, 989-732-3541, ext. 5071.


Head to Yankee Springs Recreation Area in Barry County this Saturday for our final Centennial Campfire Storytelling event. Hear from seasoned storytellers, and maybe even share your own favorite state parks memories! 


If you've previously completed a Michigan hunter, ORV, boating, snowmobile or other recreation safety course and lost or misplaced your original certificate, request a replacement online or call 517-284-6055.


Did you know we plan activities like timber harvest and tree planting two years in advance? Come to a forest planning open house to learn more and share your opinions about state forests in your area.

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