A committee of the Natural Resources Commission last week decided not to cancel deer season in the Upper Peninsula this year. The committee is searching for solutions to halt declining deer populations in Northern Michigan. Sever winter weather has reduced the deer herd as much as 40% in some parts of the U.P.
Completely banning deer hunting in the U.P. would severely hurt the local economy, which relies on hunters coming north during archery and firearm deer season. Alternatives to helping the deer herd recover discussed by the committee included doing nothing, or not allowing hunting of does during archery season.
The past two winters in the Northeastern United States and Great Lakes have been especially harsh with below normal temperatures and above average snowfall. The Polar Vortex Michigan has experienced the past two winters is created by arctic ice melting at the North Pole and exposing more water for warming. This warming weakens the jet stream, and the blast of polar air slips south. Climate change caused by human activity will continue to have an impact on the environment in Michigan, and that includes the survivability of our deer herds. Climate change affects the deer population. Fewer deer means fewer hunters, and that means businesses that rely on deer hunting season will suffer.
The Natural Resources Commission can struggle with the problem of declining deer numbers by banning hunting in certain areas, and the DNR can raise hunting fees so astronomically high many hunters can’t afford to hunt in Michigan any longer, but these are all band aids on a much bigger problem. Our changing environment due to human activity and a warming planet may put an end to one of the most popular seasons in Michigan – deer hunting season.