DNR wants hunters' help this season
Firearm deer season, which is just weeks away, will give Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers at deer check stations a good look at the state's deer herd.
The DNR is still watching the free ranging deer population for any sign of chronic wasting disease.
Since the disease was found in a Kent County deer in late August, DNR officials have pointed to firearms deer season as their best chance to gauge the deer herd's health. DNR is urging hunters to have their harvested animals evaluated at deer check stations.
"These check station are vital in our investigation into chronic wasting disease," said DNR press secretary Mary Dettloff.
"The only test we have for CWD is conducted on dead deer, so other than road-killed animals, check stations will be our only means of checking for the disease in the free ranging herd."
A number of stations throughout the state are strategically located along major travel ways, Dettloff said. At the stations, hunters can acquire DNR literature and talk to wildlife biologists and conservation officers about deer populations, hunting prospects, regulations and other information related to the hunt.
At check stations, DNR staff will examine teeth of deer and record where the deer was taken, its age, sex, total antler points and antler beam diameter, according to Dettloff. Some check stations have a scale so hunters can also weigh their deer.
"Hunters are often surprised at how much information they can gain when they visit a check station," said Rodney Clute, DNR big game specialist.
Information gathered through hunter participation at check stations helps state wildlife biologists evaluate the health and condition of the herd for future management, added Clute. Check stations also play a vital role in monitoring the presence of disease in deer.
Those who harvest a deer are asked to bring their deer to any check station. For their effort in helping with the data collection, they will be given a Deer Management Cooperator/Successful Hunter collector's patch.
A complete list of information on check stations and the hours of operation are available on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr.