The DNR really can listen to us
Written by Battle Creek Enquirer   
Sunday, 12 February 2006 09:44

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources definitely knows how to do the right thing. Now I bet there are more than a few of you out there still choking on their morning coffee after reading such a statement.

And, yes, I really did write it. And I also mean it. The DNR's decision to allow catch-and-release fishing in April is an outstanding idea and one that, quite frankly, is long overdue.

True, the process was not perfect and it took an awful lot of work and convincing by angler groups. But the end result is what we needed and what makes sense. You have to give the DNR credit for that. That said, there is a remarkable similarity here.

The DNR changed the bass regulations after putting several proposals together and pitching them to the public. We then had the opportunity to respond. The evidence from that process was overwhelming. Anglers clearly wanted the opportunity to pursue bass in the early spring months.

There was no way the DNR could deny that given the evidence at hand. And there was tremendous scientific and biological information at hand that stated such an extended season would have no impact on bass populations. Of course, we're now going to talk deer. Sorry. But it's unavoidable.

The DNR's population goal proposal meetings have been filled with comments from the hunting public. And at the meeting I've attended more than 90 percent of those who spoke are in favor of Quality Deer Management regulations that will help protect more young bucks. They want a one-buck limit and they want the DNR to do a better job of managing deer numbers. There is no possible way the DNR can deny the public's desire for changes.

And, at the same time, there is strong scientific and biological data that QDM regulations can do a lot for the state's deer herd and its hunters. But will the DNR listen? They certainly did when it comes to bass fishing regulations. But deer are a different matter. Or are they? The DNR's turkey management program is outstanding.

There's no denying that Michigan has an outstanding turkey population and our hunter success rates are some of the highest in the nation. A big reason for that is the way the DNR has set up the seasons and staggered the hunting pressure.

Al Stewart, the DNR's turkey guru, is a turkey hunter. He also happens to be a truly fine human being with a lot of genuine concern about the wild turkeys in this state. He's also more than willing to listen to hunters and the organizations that represent them like the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Because Stewart listens, we see turkey hunting regulations that are almost perfect. The DNR listened to hunters and anglers in regards to bass and turkeys. But will they listen when it comes to deer. Let's all hope so.

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