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Michigan woods to see less hunters in coming years

Data shows hunting on the decline in Michigan
Michigan woods to see less hunters in coming years
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 5:45 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Monday marks one of the most anticipated days on Michigan’s calendar and this year, more than 550,000 hunters took to the woods to celebrate.

Related: Things to know about deer hunting season and COVID-19

But soon, Michigan’s woods could see fewer and fewer hunters if current trends continue.

In 1996, Michigan saw the most number of hunters on record for a Michigan hunting season. Since then, that number has steadily declined, with a couple of thousand fewer hunters every year.

Dustin Isenhoff, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said it could be due to availability.

“Surveys usually point to a lack of access and a lack of time as the top two things,” Isenhoff said. “And that would make sense with what we saw last year. The pandemic reallocated time.”

Last year’s numbers saw an uptick during the pandemic. Despite last year’s slight re-growth, the decline continues to concern those tracking deer populations.

“So fewer hunters in the woods is a concern because that’s our number one tool that we’re able to regulate and make a difference and keep that population in check,” Isenhoff said. “It’s something that we talk about all the time. To try to figure out what can we do to make a difference and make sure we get the most amount of hunters that we can in the woods.”

Hunting advocates said not only is hunting critical for deer population control, but it’s also a historical part of Michigan’s culture. Shaun McKeon, with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said it’s what makes Michigan so unique.

“The heritage is a big piece of who a lot of Michiganders have been and hunting’s been a reason why people moved to Michigan in the 1800s,” said McKeon. “The fur harvesting industry was why people came here. So, as the trends change, it’s something that we want to keep forefront,”

For now, advocates encourage those with their hunting licenses to enjoy the 2021 firearm season, which ends November 30th.

For more information on hunting licenses, visit the DNR’s official website here.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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