Statewide Deer Hunting Forecast Announced

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State wildlife officials today announced the 2005 deer hunting forecast, an annual review of the deer herd in Michigan's regions to help hunters prepare for the upcoming seasons.

Biologists estimate the fall whitetail population in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula is close to the Department of Natural Resources' established deer population goal, which indicates there are fewer deer than in recent years. Since the deer herd is near-goal, there will be no early antlerless seasons in 2005. Excellent hunting opportunities exist throughout the UP and northern Michigan, even though hunters may see fewer deer than in previous years.

In southern Lower Michigan biologists estimate the deer population to be about the same as it has been the last few years, still above the DNR's goal. Deer hunting opportunities exist in every county in southern Michigan.

"We encourage hunters to take antlerless deer to help reduce this deer herd," said Rod Clute, DNR big game specialist. "In southern Michigan, a smaller deer herd is in the best interest of both the deer and their habitats."

Biologists predict the statewide harvest for the 2005 deer hunting season will be similar to or slightly below last year's season, when an estimated 450,000 deer were taken. The complete Michigan Deer Harvest Survey Report from the 2004 season is available on the DNR Web site,

"The DNR's goal is to maintain a quality deer herd that is in balance with its habitat and yields healthy fawns, does and bucks" said Bill Moritz, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division.

Michigan's deer herd is dynamic and not evenly distributed across the state, with most of the population residing on private land. In the last decade, the distribution of the statewide population has shifted with an increasing percentage found in southern Michigan. For the last three years, the estimated deer harvest in southern Michigan exceeded the estimated harvest for northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula combined.

Deer hunting is a major economic booster in Michigan with hunters spending more time afield than in any other state or Canadian province. An expected 750,000 individuals will purchase at least one deer license in 2005. Hunters will spend more than 10 million days enjoying deer hunting recreation during the archery, firearm, and muzzleloading seasons combined. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that deer hunters spend an average of $53 per day. Michigan deer hunters are expected to spend more than $500 million for food, lodging, transportation and equipment to pursue deer.

The DNR provides more than 90 deer check stations around the state to help evaluate and monitor Michigan's deer herd. Check stations will be listed on the DNR Web site before Oct. 1. Hunters are encouraged to bring in their deer or deer head to provide biological information to the Department and earn a 2005 Deer Management Cooperator patch.