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Michigan urges hunters to report deer harvest

The image shows four deer hanging upside down from a metal pole in front of a building. The deer are all buck deer, and they are all hanging by their hind legs. The pole is attached to the building by two metal brackets. The building is a small, one-story building with a white exterior and a brown roof. There is a sign on the front of the building that says "Buck Pole".
Amy Robinson
Hunters in Michigan are required to report their harvest to the state each season.

With archery deer hunting season in full force, state officials want to remind hunters to keep track of their harvest.

Last year, Michigan began asking hunters to report each deer they harvest.

Chad Stewart, a deer, elk and moose management specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the data help the state make recommendations to manage the whitetail deer herd.

“The report needs to be completed within 72 hours after the animal is tagged,” Steward said. “So it gives hunters really three full days to get the report in and that's one of the longest timeframes in the Midwest.”

Before the program was put in place, the state estimated deer harvest through a survey administered to a random subset of hunters after hunting season was over. Stewart said the response rate of that survey has declined.

“We were below a 30% response rate prior to 2020,” he said.

More than 300,000 thousand deer were recorded in 2022, according to data from the state. Stewart said he believes that accurately represents the total number of deer harvested.

Currently, there is no penalty for failing to report deer harvests. Stewart said that's intentional.

"We're still really focused on education and trying to create this cultural change in our deer hunting public to recognize that this is a new requirement moving forward," he said.

In July, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted legislation capping fines at a maximum of $150 for failure to report harvests. Previously, the initial fine for failing to report was up to $500, along with a potential misdemeanor charge carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.

Reports of deer harvests can be made online, through mobile phone application or by calling the DNR's customer service line.

Firearm deer season in Michigan runs November 15 through November 30.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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