Furbearer Workgroup Meeting

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Furbearer Workgroup Meeting

Postby Beaverhunter2 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:31 pm

I represented the MTPCA at the FBWG Meeting in St. Ignace on Saturday. Here's the scoop on the meeting. Now remember nothing is guaranteed. The DNR is still working through the internal process and seeking feedback. The opinions on the likelihood of these issues being proposed to the NRC are mine.

-Increasing the NLP Otter limit to two. I think this one will go through. If the DNR sees the population declining, they'll take it back to one. They may begin requiring teeth or skull submission at registration to allow them to begin developing population reconstruction model information. Since we have to register them anyways, I figure this is no big deal.

-Adding raccoons and opossums to the list of species that can be hunted at night with a call. I think this will go through as well.

-Allowing a .22 rimfire for dispatch in the Shotgun Zone during the firearms deer season. I'm pretty comfortable the DNR will recommend this as well. It will likely require that the firearm only be loaded at the point of dispatch.

-Reviewing the Beaver and Otter Season end dates in the UP (and possibly statewide). A few years ago there was a request from some trappers in the UP that the season there be ended on March 31. This was based on a concern that the population had declined. There was a lot of discussion on this issue and it appears that the consensus was on an end date of April 15. This should allow some open water trapping but also help ensure that beaver and otter will not be taken after they have kits/pups.

-Fur Harvesting/Trapping Reciprocity with other states. Any changes here would have to occur in the Legislature so it is essentially off the table.

-Reviewing the marten and fisher regulations. The DNR is very concerned that the best available data suggests a 70% decline in the fisher population and a 30% decline in the marten population. (And remember that Proposal G requires that they manage based on the best available science.) They intend to take action to reduce the fisher and marten harvest. They were seeking input on how the trappers would like to see this done. We have always been opposed to lotteries because they limit the number of trappers that can at least try to take the animal. We were also opposed to reducing the season length because with 15 days, any reduction in the season would make it almost non-functional. We were also concerned that, because marten and fisher movements are very weather-dependent, one year you could have adverse weather and take very few. The next year weather could be conducive to movement and the harvest could skyrocket. We suggested that if they really felt they needed to reduce the harvest , a combined limit of 1 or 2 made the most sense. Two additional concerns were raised by trappers about other impacts on the fisher and marten populations: 1. Deer hunters shooting them. This is obviously very illegal, but it is also very hard to control. 2. Chocolate being used in bear baits. A chemical called Theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to many animals- dogs, raccoons, etc. We suspect it could be hazardous to marten and fisher as well. We requested that they review this. Adam Bump told me that a bear cub had been found at a bait killed by chocolate toxicity and that the DNR was already planning to ban chocolate from bear baits.

-Reviewing the Cable Restraint regulations. This will be covered in more depth at the next meeting in March, but they are testing a cable restraint with a reverse bend washer lock with a hole twice the cable diameter and a 3 1/2" loop stop. One of the DNR folks testing the CR had three coyote catches the morning of the meeting. They should have more information on the effectiveness of this cable restraint at the March meeting.

-The DNR is holding off on the bobcat regulations until the 2013 season. This will allow them to develop better population estimates and for us to work with the hound groups to develop some recommendations we all can agree on.

-Lastly, they are reviewing the possibility of allowing buckshot to be used for night calling. Originally they expressed concern about safety due to the longer carrying distance of the larger shot. They are also concerned that deer poachers could use carrying a call as a method to avoid arrest while carrying a shotgun with buckshot. Understanding that there could be some validity of these concerns, we have asked that they consider allowing #3 buck and smaller. This will allow younger and smaller hunters to have an effective load for 20 gauge shotguns and allow an effective 12 gauge load with a lower cost than the tungsten alloy shot. IMO #3 buck and #4 buck would probably be less effective than a .22WMR for deer poaching and it certainly won't carry as far. I think its time for a letter-writing campaign if you'd like to see buckshot for night-time calling. I'd suggest you send POLITE and PROFESSIONAL letters to the following folks expressing your views. When I get mine drafted, I'll post it.

Russ Mason, PhD
Chief- Wildlife Division
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
PO Box 30444
Lansing, MI 48909-7944

Adam Bump
Bear and Furbearer Specialist
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
PO Box 30444
Lansing, MI 48909-7944

Gary Hagler
Chief- Law Enforcement Division
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
PO Box 30031
Lansing, MI 48909

If you have feedback to send to the DNR on any of these issues, please remember to be polite and professional. I honestly think part of the hesitancy we're getting from the DNR on reviewing the regs regarding trapping inside feeders and push-ups comes from the abuse they took on this issue last winter.

All in all, I think it's a good list of issues. Some of them (like the NLP otter limit) have been issues we have been asking for for many years. It was a long but good day.

My thanks to the DNR Wildlife Division for addressing looking at a lot of issues that are important to trappers and callers!


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