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Friske introduces bill to repeal DNR’s deer harvest reporting rule

Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A northern Michigan lawmaker has introduced a bill to repeal a state rule requiring hunters to report their deer harvest online.

Last fall, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began requiring hunters to report deer harvests within 72 hours or face a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500.

In a written statement, Republican state representative Neil Friske said hunters in Northern Michigan lack internet access, and the requirement is impractical.

“It’s not the duty of the DNR to legislate and criminalize our hunters for not having internet access,” Friske said. “Hunting is extremely important to my constituents, and it is my goal to make it as easy as possible without excessive government overreach.”

In addition to repealing the DNR requirement, HB-4135 seeks to prevent the Natural Resource Commission from issuing similar orders.

Chad Stewart is a deer, elk, and moose specialist with the DNR. He said the state supports reducing penalties against hunters, but mandatory reporting is important for data collection and deer management.

300,000 deer were reported last season with the new system, which was implemented due to due to previously low mail-in survey responses on harvest data.

The DNR said it mainly received positive or neutral feedback. Hunters without internet access can call local DNR offices for reporting support.

The state prioritized education of the reporting system in its first year, but Stewart said enforcement likely increase in the next deer season.

Last year, a bill to reduce penalties on hunters who fail to report harvests passed in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the governor. The DNR initially supported the bill, but withdrew support after amendments were added, which would have prevented the state from issuing similar rules.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.