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MI deer harvest numbers are in, could be adjusted after mailing hunters surveys

Whitetail deer  in a meadow
The number of deer harvested in 2022 was 303,000, down from 395,000 in 2021. But, the DNR used different methodology to gather that data.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is releasing the numbers of deer killed during the bow and firearm hunting seasons months earlier than usual.

In the past, a survey was mailed to a sampling of hunters. Deer harvest numbers were estimated from that. The harvest total didn’t come out until May or June.

This past season, for the first time, the DNR required hunters to report deer kills, using the DNR website, using a mobile app, in person at a customer service center or by calling the agency within 72 hours. The website was the most used method with 86% of hunters using it. The app was used by 13% of those that participated in the season.

“Given that this is the first year doing it and we had over 300,000 deer successfully reported through the system, we feel that the system performed very successfully,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer, elk and moose management specialist.

The survey response rate has been declining over the years. The DNR said 30% of the deer taken during the firearm season were killed on opening day.

The deer harvest numbers

The harvest for 2022 was 303,000 deer, down from 395,000 the year before. But, it’s really not a good comparison because of the different methods used.

You can see how many deer were taken in your county here.

The DNR will try to get a better handle on the 2022 season total by mailing a survey again.

“We just simply have to correct for, you know, the individuals who successfully harvested but did not report it,” Steward said.

The 586,595 hunters purchasing a deer license, amounted to about a 1% decrease from the previous year. The number of Michigan hunters has been declining, but the number of out-of-state hunters is rising.

The DNR also checked 10,000 deer for chronic wasting disease. The disease is still present but doesn’t seem to be spreading outside of the areas where it’s been seen before.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report and previously hosted Stateside on Fridays. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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