Michigan Deer Management Planning Process

The management of Michigan’s deer herd is under intense scrutiny by hunters, farmers, the timber industry, and the public in general. There is perhaps no wildlife issue that is receiving as much attention and conversation as the management of Michigan’s deer herd among these diverse stakeholders. Limited staff resources and time, however, precludes the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from administering extensive public engagement for the deer management planning process at this time. Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) and the DNR have agreed to create a partnership to develop a robust public input process that will facilitate the creation of a strategic deer management plan. The public input process is being organized by MUCC and includes a broad spectrum of stakeholders, while the DNR and other researchers will provide scientific support. A statewide Citizen Deer Advisory Team (CDAT) has been formed to oversee the public engagement process and develop recommendations for deer management strategies, based on the scientific information presented at the Deer Symposium and public input from around the state. The CDAT will begin meeting in October 2008 and includes the following agencies and organizations: State/Federal Agencies • Michigan Dept. of Agriculture • MI Dept. of Natural Resources • Michigan Dept. of Transportation • MSU-College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Organizations • Commemorative Bucks of MI • County Road Association of MI • MI Association of Timbermen • MI Bowhunters Association • Michigan Farm Bureau • Michigan Forestry Association • MI Recreation and Park Assoc. • Michigan Resource Stewards • MI United Conservation Clubs • Michigan United Deer Hunters • Quality Deer Management Assoc.-MI Chapter • Sierra Club • • • MSU Extension USDA-Forest Service USDA-Wildlife Services

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Sportsmen Against Hunger United Sportmen’s Alliance UP Whitetails Association Whitetails Unlimited American Tree Farm System (invited) Insurance Institute of Michigan Michigan Sheriff’s Association MI Traditional Bowhunters (invited) NRA (invited) Safari Club International (invited)

Strategic Deer Management Goals
1. Maintain deer populations by deer management unit at levels compatible with available habitat while providing recreational opportunities with consideration of the public’s vision for the deer herd, based upon sound scientific management principles. 2. Manage habitat to provide for the long-term viability of the species while eliminating (or at least limiting) negative impacts to all other species dependent upon that habitat. 3. Use hunting as the primary tool to help achieve population goals. 4. Develop literature and programs to provide information and education on deer biology. 5. Reduce the probability of transmission of Bovine TB and other diseases among the wild deer population and between deer and livestock.

Proposed Planning Activities: 2008-2010
1. Create a Michigan Citizen Deer Advisory Team. The purpose of the team is to: a) assist MUCC in ensuring that the planning process is reaching the broadest spectrum of stakeholders as possible; b) ensure that the educational materials are appropriate and effective; and to c) help integrate the information received throughout the planning process and to develop management options for consideration by the MDNR. 2. Create Regional Citizen Deer Advisory Teams. These teams may include, but are not limited to, 10-20 regionally-based participants from a variety of stakeholder groups, invited based on input from the statewide Citizen Deer Advisory Team. 3. Develop educational materials, based on the scientific information from the public symposium, to use at public meetings, advisory team meetings, and with focus groups. The education tools will include a video with interviews of deer management experts throughout the country. 4. Public survey. To more explicitly characterize what issues are identified and how they are ranked according to different stakeholders and across all regions in the state. The survey will extend insights to a large sample of Michigan citizens, which will enable statistical comparisons between stakeholders and regions. Timeline: October 2008 – February 2009 5. Public synthesis and draft planning alternatives: MUCC, with the assistance of the Statewide and Regional Citizen Deer Advisory Teams, will prepare a summary of the public input and develop management alternatives for consideration by MDNR. Timeline: December 2008 6. Technical reviews of the various deer issues will be written by Wildlife Division staff to describe the issue, characterize the insight gained on each issue through

the roundtable process and public survey, summarize other existing data and knowledge relevant to each issue, and describe existing or feasible management programs to address the issue. This information will be helpful to the advisory teams as they make recommendations. Timeline: December 2008 7. Facilitated focus groups meetings to provide qualitative feedback on emerging issues and proposals. The focus groups will be with MUCC clubs, representatives of the general public, and deer hunting interest groups. Timeline: February 2009 8. Venison suppers and feedback: MUCC will encourage that deer hunters hold small meetings to review MUCC educational materials and provide feedback on several key questions. Timeline: Winter 2009 9. Hold regional meetings for the public to provide comment on the proposals and provide additional suggestions for changing management practices. Timeline: June 2009 10. MUCC will amend the proposal, based upon the public comment and Citizen Deer Advisory Team input, and submit the summary of public input and draft management alternatives to the NRC and the MDNR for consideration and adoption. Timeline: Fall 2009 11. DNR will create a strategic deer management plan based on information gained through the public engagement process. The plan will be available in draft format in Winter 2010 for review. 12. Open houses throughout the state, which will include a brief presentation of the plan and discussion. The public will also have the opportunity to provide comment on the DNR Web site. 13. DNR will present the strategic deer management plan for Director’s information in March 2010 for decision in April 2010.