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Ice fishing begins, deer harvest reviewed; forest road maps redrawn

Outdoors Report

Tony Gustafson, left, and son Tyler of Foster City got these bucks in Menominee County during the Michigan firearm season.

IRON MOUNTAIN – Ice fishing has started on inland lakes in the Upper Peninsula, but extreme caution needs to be used, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

Although ice strength has been aided by no snow and cold temperatures at night, early ice can be dangerous, the DNR said. Testing the ice ahead of you is strongly advised and be sure to stay away from river mouths.

Anglers were ice fishing in the bays of Lake Gogebic, the DNR said, but there were few reports otherwise.

For anglers targeting walleye, larger lures and aggressive jigging is advised early in the morning, when fish will be active. As time wears on, select smaller lures. As sunset nears fish will often become more active again.

The DNR field office in Escanaba registered 520 deer during the firearm deer season, down 10% from a year ago and 17% below the 10-year average established from 2011-2020. Comments heard by DNR staff at deer check stations suggest concerns about COVID-19 may have lowered the number of people at camp, the Escanaba Daily Press reported. There also were anecdotal reports of fewer deer overall.

“We will have a better understanding of the extent of this as we receive results from the mail-in harvest surveys, voluntary harvest surveys, U.P. deer camp surveys and Mackinac Bridge Authority data,” DNR Wildlife Technician Colter Lubben said.

New maps for state forest roads in Michigan are expected to go into effect and be published online April 1.

Proposed changes across the state can be viewed on an interactive web map or printable PDF maps at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads. According to the DNR, changes to the maps will include:

— Adding roads that previously were unmapped.

— Deleting roads that no longer exist.

— Removing duplicate road entries.

— Closing roads to conventional vehicle use, including ORVs.

— Closing roads only to ORV use and opening other roads to ORV use.

“This year, efforts focused on evaluating the existing forest road maps, making changes where warranted, and comparing on-the-ground roads to online datasets,” said Kristen Matson, forest road inventory review team member. “Changes were proposed to increase the accuracy of the map system.”

At the January meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, state forest road proposals will be brought before DNR Director Daniel Eichinger. At the February meeting, Eichinger is expected to make a formal decision on the proposed changes.

The public comment period for the 2021 proposals has ended, although comments will also be accepted during the NRC meetings.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host a regional public meeting to discuss updating the Wisconsin Walleye Management Plan. The meeting will be via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Menominee, Shawano and Taylor counties. Individuals interested in walleye management who would like to participate should contact Max Wolter at Max.Wolter@wisconsin.gov or 715-634-7429. Pre-registration is required.

The updating process includes a review of the existing plan, an analysis of available data and trends and significant public input on angling and management preferences. The DNR is seeking public feedback on stocking priorities, regulation acceptance and agency resource allocation.

A meeting for Florence, Forest, Marinette and Oconto counties is scheduled for Jan. 19. More information is available on the DNR’s public meetings calendar at https://dnr.wi.gov/calendar/Meetings/.

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