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Fewer people are hunting in Michigan

Posted at 5:54 AM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 05:54:19-05

It may seem like an oxymoron, having more people trying to kill deer is actually good for the deer population.

But that's the case, and it's why the annual two-percent decline in the number of hunters has conservationists worried.

"We are unfortunately not seeing as many hunters, especially Michigan and the rest of the nation has been on downward trend for hunters for the last 15 years," Ashley Autenrieth, Deer Program Biologist DNR said.

The DNR says the number of hunters is decreasing anywhere from .07 percent to 2 percent each year. Right now the state has more than 500,000 hunters, but that's expected to drop to as few as 300,000 over the next few years. There's no one reason for this, but getting young people interested in hunting is a big part of the problem.

"The average age of hunters in Michigan is 64 years of age. The numbers have went down, I think that we can do a better job of promoting it. Especially with the youth of the country state, celebrating, Michigan. It has some of the greatest resources, Michael Lover, a supervisor at Total Firearms said.

And fewer hunters means more deer, which experts say can be bad for the environment.

"The deer are having a really significant and sometimes harmful impact on things we care about. Like natural and planted vegetation, crops, and there's been a lot of deer killed along the highway this year. And that sort of thing tends to go up when you have too many deer in an area," Director of Wildlife Programs at the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy Dr. Patrick Rusz said.

Although the DNR says the state hasn't hit the critical low for hunters yet, they say its only a matter of time.

"We're not seeing that yet, but eventually we will. What we will have to about that at that point in time? I don't know," Autenrieth said.

Hunters pump billions of dollars into Michigan's economy every year. They also help control the spread of chronic wasting disease by keeping the deer population under control.

With Regular Firearm Season starting this week, here are a couple reminders:

  • You cannot fire a gun within 450 feet of a building unless you own it or have permission from the owner.
  • You can't hunt or track a wounded deer on someone else's land without permission.
  • You are allowed to retrieve a hunting dog on private property, but you can not take your gun with you.