Michigan DNR revives U.P. deer habitat group with new members

MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — The Michigan DNR has revived a group composed of people dedicated to improving the deer habitat in the Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula Habitat Workgroup has added new members, including the district forester for the Marquette and Alger County Conservation Districts. Other members include DNR staff, private landowners, and representatives from hunting groups and the logging industry.

“And it’s about landscape–level planning,” Matt Watkeys of the Marquette and Alger County Conservation Districts said. “Property boundaries don’t hold in deer, and forest stands encompass a wide range of the landscape, so it’s trying to get the public and the private landowners and plan–writers, the consulting foresters, on board.”

Most of the deer habitat in the region is owned by private parties. The group is trying to identify them and work with them to address the decline of suitable habitat.

“It is exacerbated by the intense winters that we’ve had the last few years,” Watkeys said. “The deer numbers are not getting any better, and that’s evident in past deer harvests and hunting seasons. The deer numbers are significantly down over the past 20 years, as most people know.”

The workgroup’s next meeting will be on February 3rd. The time and location of the meeting have not been announced yet.