Michigan DNR releases 2014 deer hunting forecast

MARQUETTE — The Michigan DNR is expecting hunters statewide to harvest about as many deer as last year, but according to its new deer forecast, the U.P. should be different.

Many fewer U.P. deer are expected to be in the woods now than a year ago. Public-land doe permits aren’t available anywhere in the U.P. at all. Only three U.P. deer management units are open for private antlerless licenses this year — units in Menominee, Norway and Gladstone. It’s because of how severe the last two winters have been.

“Not only did we lose the fawns that were coming into the 2014 winter, those does that even survived the winter came in — if they did give birth — with very compromised fawns or weren’t very vigorous to begin with, and so those didn’t survive,” DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell said.

This will be the first deer season to take place with tougher sentences for poaching. The tougher penalties were developed last year. They became law in March and are the first major changes to Michigan poaching laws since 1990.

“They’ve made a case on that already,” Roell said. “There are severe penalties for poaching, particularly, trophy–size deer, so one thing you want to do is make sure you’re legal out there.”

A Kent County man was sentenced under the new poaching guidelines last week. He has to pay more than $12,000 in fines and restitution. He has to complete five days of community service, and he could lose his hunting privileges for up to five years.

You can find the DNR’s deer forecast here.