With evidence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) now affecting white-tailed deer in more than 30 Michigan counties, Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh has signed an emergency order that decreases antlerless license purchase limits for deer management units (DMUs) where the most EHD-related die-offs have occurred. Director Creagh signed the order during yesterday’s regular monthly meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.
Effective immediately, the purchase limit for DMU 486 (a multicounty unit in the southern Lower Peninsula) is five private land antlerless deer hunting licenses per hunter. Also effective immediately, the public antlerless license purchase limit per hunter is two for each of the following DMUs: 012 (Branch), 034 (Ionia), 039 (Kalamazoo), 041 (Kent), 044 (Lapeer), 076 (Sanilac), 078 (Shiawassee), 079 (Tuscola) and 080 (Van Buren).
Individuals who purchased antlerless licenses prior to this emergency order are not required to return licenses. This order only applies to antlerless licenses purchased on or after Nov. 8, 2012.
“With this order, I hope to remind individuals to assess their local situation, and in areas where EHD has hit the hardest, either take a minimal number of antlerless deer or not take any at all,” said Director Creagh. “We strongly believe most hunters will make the right call in exercising restraint, but by working with the Natural Resources Commission to enact this emergency order, we created a regulatory mechanism to reinforce a more conservative approach.”
The DNR apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause hunters, landowners or license agents. However, this action was taken prior to the time that license sales traditionally increase sharply just prior to the opening of firearm season. The DNR feels the change was warranted in order to acknowledge the heavy deer losses that have occurred in some areas.
To better address the public’s concerns and questions about EHD, deer hunting, or deer in general, DNR’s wildlife veterinarian Steve Schmitt, deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph and Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Dean Molnar will field questions in a cyber discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 7 to 8 p.m. To join the live-streaming event, residents are asked to visit www.facebook.com/midnr.
In addition, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., DNR staff, including Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason and Assistant Chief Doug Reeves, will be available for questions at some of the busiest retail stores in southern Michigan. For a complete list of locations and participating staff, visit www.michigan.gov/deer.
“This is the perfect opportunity to connect with the hunting community on the busiest license-buying day of the year,” said Mason. “We will be stationed at more than 10 locations, and we hope hunters will stop by so we can answer any questions they may have about EHD or other deer-related concerns.”
EHD is caused by a virus that is transmitted by a type of biting fly called a midge. Deer can suffer extensive internal bleeding, leading to death just a few weeks after infection with the virus. Due to a high fever, infected deer often are found sick or dead along or in bodies of water.
Cold weather reduces midge activity and frost kills the adults that bite and transmit the virus, so most outbreaks have slowed if not stopped completely.
EHD does not affect humans, so edibility of the venison is not affected by this disease. There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus either from the midge or from handling and eating venison.
The DNR will take reports of dead deer that are likely EHD-related until Jan. 1. To report the presence of dead deer, the DNR encourages residents to contact their nearest DNR wildlife field office by consulting the list available at www.michigan.gov/wildlife.