Phone option needed for DNR deer registration in Michigan
Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 4 of 2022 will now require you to report your deer harvests in Michigan. I’ve been reaching out to the Department of Natural Resources because they are forcing you to report your harvest online or with an app. Other states that I have hunted in, including Iowa and Wisconsin, provide a phone number so you are able to call in your harvest, but the Michigan DNR says that is not an option. A large number of people still do not use smartphones or have internet access. Cellular internet service is still limited in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, along with people who only have a landline for communication.
The DNR response is below: “GPS coordinates are an essential part of our reporting process for the upcoming season, which is why there is not a phone option to report your harvest, as this requires making a selection on the website to drop a pin for the harvest location. This is important for a couple of reasons.
“The location of the harvest is needed for any animal submitted for disease surveillance purposes. Any animal processed by our laboratory is ideally within a one-mile block of where the harvest occurred. This information helps us better understand where a disease like CWD or TB is or isn’t on the landscape.
“Additionally, we know that deer are not distributed evenly across the landscape. In some instances, counties experience higher deer populations (and harvest) in one part over another, even though they are managed similarly. By building a network of harvest locations over time, we can review our management guidelines to better align with harvest numbers. This all can improve our management recommendations to account for natural variation and changes seen on the landscape, independent of county boundaries. These changes are only possible, however, with accurate reporting from hunters. By asking this question, we are really putting control of the data in the hunter’s hands. It then becomes our responsibility to use that data to make informed management recommendations that are in the best interest of the deer herd. If large levels of erroneous data are being submitted, the result could be incorrect management recommendations for parts of the state.”
The DNR is still “in the process of building out guidance and communications that should be released on our website and press outlets soon.” Many hunters and the general public are unaware of this change. The DNR has swung drastically from voluntary registration to mandatory registration requiring GPS coordinates.
Not being able to register your deer harvest by phone call is a major oversight and needs to be corrected.