Harsh winters affecting deer population

Harsh winters affecting deer population

MARQUETTE — Bow hunting season is officially underway in the state of Michigan, but it looks like the cold temperatures from this winter could have an effect on the deer population.

In fact, the Department of Natural Resources says the last two winters have significantly decreased the deer population across the Upper Peninsula.  As a result, some deer may not have the best body condition, and hunters probably won’t see a lot of yearlings or young bucks.  And, deer may not be eating in their usual spots.

“Along with the lower deer population this year we see a lower mast crop out there so nuts and acorns, things that deer eat that you usually set up your blind near mast producing trees to find deer,” DNR deputy public information officer Debbie Munson Badini said.  “There are fewer of those things being produced this year so that might mean you’re going to have to spend a little bit more time scouting in order to find deer and you just can’t rely on the old oak tree there to help you out.”

The lower deer population didn’t affect buck licenses, but it did affect the number of antlerless deer tags allotted.

“We cut those back pretty significantly in the Upper Peninsula in recognition of the lower deer population,” Munson Badini said.  “So there were no antlerless tags on public land the U.P. this year and were some on three units on private land in south-central part of the Upper Peninsula down by Menominee County where we normally have more deer, but other wise they were really hard to come by an antlerless tag this year and that was in recognition of the lower deer population.”

Depending on how this winter fares, Munson Badini said it could take a few years for the deer population to rebound.