LANSING — The Natural Resources Commission approved bear hunting regulations for the 2017-2018 hunting seasons at the commission’s meeting last Thursday in Lansing, Michigan.
“We presented recommendations for the upcoming years based on input we received from department staff and stakeholders from across the state. We are happy to see the changes to several regulations,” said Kevin Swanson, management specialist with the Department of Natural Resources bear and wolf program.
In order to reduce regulation confusion and to stabilize hunting quotas, bear hunting regulations currently are reviewed every two years instead of annually, which had been the previous practice. Michigan bear hunters will see the following changes beginning in the 2017 bear hunting season:
Chocolate and cocoa products completely banned as bear bait, due to the potential harm imposed on bear and other wildlife species.
Nonresident license cap increased from a maximum of 2 percent to a maximum of 5 percent of the total license quota.
License quota in all three northern Lower Peninsula bear management units increased by 19 percent overall, totaling 155 additional licenses.
Upper Peninsula quotas adjusted by individual bear management units, both increases and decreases.
Quota increased from one to five on Drummond Island.
Number of dogs to pursue bear for hunting or training increased from six to eight.
“We are excited for the upcoming bear season,” said Swanson. “Many comments have been received over the last two years regarding suggested changes in bear hunting regulations, and we have been able to work together and come up with recommendations many can agree on and support.”
In the last year, both the DNR’s Wildlife and Law Enforcement divisions and the Bear Forum reviewed suggested regulation changes. The Bear Forum, an advisory group with representatives from 12 different organizations and six nonaffiliated hunters, also includes the U.S. Forest Service. The forum met several times to discuss possible bear management decisions.