I received a new reply today from the DNR from both Kristin and Brent
For information on wildlife surveys and reports, see the following link to our website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,...--,00.html
For information on the state’s Deer Management Plan, which was developed with public input and presented at public meetings across the state prior to finalization, see the following link to our website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,...--,00.html
For information about the Regional Deer Advisory Teams, see the following link to our website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,...--,00.html
For information about the Natural Resources Commission, their meeting schedule, and how to make public appearances, see the following link to our website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,...--,00.html
You may also be interested in looking at the all-inclusive deer website created by DNR and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife t Michigan State University. The website covers everything from basic deer biology to hunting regulations to the newest deer research. Below is a link to that website.
I’m sure you’ll find all this information interesting, it will help to answer many of your questions. I hope you had very happy holidays!
Kristin M. Bissell, Wildlife Biologist
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
Waterloo Wildlife Office
13578 Seymour Road
Grass Lake, MI 49240
Phone: (517) 522-4097
Fax: (517) 522-3315
I’m sorry for my delayed response. The busy deer season always runs into the busy holiday season for me, and I’ve also had several year-end research reports to wrap up over the last month or so. All of these time-sensitive things have left me falling behind on general correspondence.
We try as hard as we can to make resources available online to describe deer management goals and tools. Take a look at our deer website – www.michigan.gov/deer – to explore a bit of what’s out there. Specifically, follow the “Deer Management Plan” link from the bottom and then take a look at Appendix D that is part of the plan. It provides an overview of a lot of basic deer management concepts and summarizes some of the strengths and weaknesses of various tools to use for deer estimates or indices – some of which we use, and some we don’t.
Something else to bear in mind is that basic logistical constraints and environmental differences often place a limit on the feasibility of monitoring methods in different regions of the state, and sometimes important considerations change over time. Pellet surveys are a good example. They were initially implemented in northern regions back when we had very few deer in southern Michigan. As southern Michigan deer populations grew, they were not adopted in this region because pellets are much harder to find in plowed fields than in forested settings. Now we have less open farmland in southern Michigan, but some of that change is because development has increased and property sizes even in still rural areas have shrank – and since conducting pellet surveys depends upon gaining permission from landowners, it’s simply not possible to efficiently do that across many property owners within the window of time during which surveys must be conducted, even if there are areas in southern Michigan were environmental conditions may be suitable for conducting pellet surveys. The complication of gaining landowner permission was also a significant reason we stopped doing pellet surveys in the northern Lower Peninsula.
We have adapted techniques and explored new ones over time. Population reconstruction methods are more feasible and efficient to use with the systems of hardware and software we now have. Over just my 13 years here in the state we’ve shifted from providing printed copies of data that staff would add to binders and use calculators to generate numbers to a system through which all data are entered into an online database so that staff can launch software to run various versions of the calculations within a few minutes. The time saved in generating the estimate can then be reinvested in comparing estimates and trends to other indices, hunter observations, etc. More recently, we’ve collaborated with researchers at Michigan State University to extract DNA from deer pellets so that we can begin to learn more about how individual deer move across the landscape in farmland and suburban settings. This will enhance information we’ve gathered from radiocollar studies, but these kinds of projects are expensive and labor intensive, so they can only be done at specific times and places in conjunction with addressing other research questions – they do not represent tools that can be used to provide all of our biologists with the same information every year.
I see Kristin has also replied and included links to information about our Deer Advisory Teams (DATs) and our Natural Resources Commission (NRC). Public input is a legally guaranteed opportunity through the NRC meetings, and the DATs have been a recent initiative by Wildlife Division to provide an ongoing, highly engaged method to get input as we develop recommendations to bring to the NRC.
Thanks for your interest in deer and deer management in Michigan, and your continued efforts to become more informed
Brent A. Rudolph
Wildlife Research Specialist – Deer and Elk Program Leader
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Rose Lake Wildlife Research Center
862 East Stoll Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823
Office: (517) 641-4903 (ext 248)
Mobile: (517) 643-6661