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State reduces penalties for hunters who fail to report deer harvest

Whitetail deer in a meadow

Michigan hunters are set to face less harsh penalties if they fail to report a deer harvest.

Last year, the state Department of Natural Resources began requiring hunters to report deer harvests within 72 hours. Those who skirted the rule could have faced a fee of up to $500 as well as a potential misdemeanor charge and jail time.

A bill Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed last week drops the misdemeanor threat and limits the fee to no more than $150.

Chad Stewart is a deer, elk and moose management specialist with the DNR. He says the department supports the change.

“This bill is, ultimately, the culmination of something that we've been hoping to champion for a long time," Stewart said. "Now hunters who fail to report their deer harvest are not subjected to severe penalties.”

Stewart adds the department will continue to engage with hunters rather than emphasize the penalties.

“We really focused on education rather than enforcement over that first year, and actually we’ll continue to do so this year just because it’s such a new system for everybody to get used to," Stewart said.

Based on survey participation, the state estimates more than 300,000 deer were harvested in 2022.

Those who hunt deer can fill out a harvest report on the DNR’s website or through a mobile app.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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