Pheasant hunters soon may be finding and harvesting more pheasants afield thanks to the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative, through which select state game areas in the southern Lower Peninsula will receive released rooster pheasants over the next two seasons.
The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 618 of 2018, which appropriated $260,000 from the general fund to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a pheasant release program during fall 2019 and 2020.
"This legislation was made possible through the partnership of the Michigan Pheasant Hunters Initiative and Michigan United Conservation Clubs," said Amy Trotter, executive director of MUCC. "Releasing pheasants on state game areas was widely supported among our membership through our grassroots resolution process and was one of the recommendations made by the blue-ribbon advisory group charged with the responsibility to examine the uses of southern Michigan state game areas. The group recommended elevating small game hunting as a management output for state game areas."
The 2018 elk hunting season stats are in, and the 2019 winter elk survey just wrapped up, providing a clear picture of where Michigan's elk population currently stands.
Hunt period 1, which targets elk outside of their traditional range, was 12 days long. From Aug. 28-31, Sept. 14-17 and Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 99 state hunters harvested 68 elk (28 bulls and 40 antlerless elk.) In addition, all three Pure Michigan Hunt winners were successful during the first hunt period.
During hunt period 2, Dec. 15-23, another 100 state hunters harvested 78 elk (30 bulls and 48 antlerless elk). All locations in the northern tip of the state are open to hunting for this later hunt.
In order for regulated hunting to assist in managing elk, Michigan's elk population first must be evaluated.
Preliminary results from the 2018 bear hunting season show hunters found success across Michigan’s bear hunting management zones.
“While we are still waiting for all data from check stations and hunter harvest surveys, it appears that we’ll be on track for good harvest numbers and success rates,” said DNR Bear and Wolf Program specialist Kevin Swanson. “It seems that weather and mast availability may have impacted the harvest in some areas, but these factors are natural defense mechanisms that reduce the harvest in certain years.”
For the 2018 hunting season, approximately 54,000 hunters applied for 7,140 bear hunting licenses, the same number of licenses that was available last year. In 2017, 1,691 bears were taken. This year, preliminary numbers appear to be slightly below the 1,500-target harvest.
“Bear hunting seasons have staggered openings across the state, so we have seasons that have been opening and closing since early September,” said Swanson. “All bears must be registered within 72 hours of harvest, so eventually we’ll have all that information, along with completed hunter harvest surveys, to give us great data regarding days of hunter effort and also success rates.”
See current bear hunting regulations at michigan.gov/bear.