Legislation to reduce deer harvest reporting penalty advances

A white-tailed buck seen between the trees. (Michigan DNR Photo)
A white-tailed buck seen between the trees. (Michigan DNR Photo)(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:25 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - An effort to reduce the penalty for hunters who don’t complete required deer harvest reporting in Michigan advanced Wednesday at the state Capitol.

A new order from the state Natural Resources Commission requires hunters to file online reports within 72 hours after taking a deer. That includes the exact location and type of hunting device used. If a hunter does not comply, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

A bill the House passed Wednesday would lower the penalty to a state civil infraction. A violator may be ordered to pay a civil fine of up to $150. The legislation now heads to the Senate. Bow season begins Oct. 1.

The Department of Natural Resources has said that, given that the reporting process is new for the 2022 season, “this first year we will emphasize an educational approach to hunters rather than enforcement in most circumstances.”

The Michigan DNR says the data reporting will be very beneficial to setting deer harvest regulations. The DNR also says the data collected is protected, so hunters will not have to worry about disclosing their hunting locations. Hunters can expect the report to take about three to five minutes to complete and it can be done on the DNR website or mobile app.

Reps. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, and Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock, voted in favor of the legislation.

“This government overreach is incredibly impractical for hunters and would saddle some with misdemeanor offenses that impact how they’re able to provide for their families going forward,” Markkanen said in a statement. “The state’s emphasis on getting more information for population management purposes shouldn’t lead them to enacting criminal penalties. That’s not the right approach for recreationalists who love what Michigan and our region have to offer. I will continue to work toward delivering solutions on this issue, so hunters in the U.P. aren’t delivered summons.”

LaFave said in a statement: “The legal participation of hunters in our deer hunting tradition here in Michigan should never result in any type of infraction regardless of how much the DNR values ‘information’ for game management purposes. To assume hunters deep in the woods will have an internet connection and know their exact coordinates at the time of their harvest is absurd. The new mandate will only worsen the recent decline in hunting that has already occurred in our state.”