Lansing — Results of two surveys to guage hunter support for antler point restrictions in the Lower Peninsula are expected to be announced in March. “We’ve got 50 percent response (from those being surveyed), so there will be a recommendation one way or the other,” said Brent Rudolph, the DNR’s deer and elk program leader. “We don’t know what the results are yet. We’ll probably have a full report written up in March. “We’re still waiting for more results to come in. Our third (and final) mailing went out Jan. 3.” A group called the Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative is proposing a change to what constitutes a legal buck in the Lower Peninsula. In Zone 2 (the northern Lower Peninsula), LPDMI proposes hunters with a regular buck tag be limited to shooting bucks with at least three points on one side. In Zone 3, LPDMI is proposing hunters with a regular buck tag be limited to shooting any buck with at least four points on one side. Requirements for the restricted buck tag would remain the same – good for bucks with at least four points on one side. Currently, a legal buck in Michigan in areas without an APR is a deer having at least one antler that extends 3 inches or more above the skull. Under the current regulations, Michigan deer hunters in most of the Lower Peninsula may purchase up to two buck kill tags under a combo license – a regular tag and a restricted tag. The regular tag – which also may be purchased as a single, stand-alone archery or firearms license – allows a hunter to shoot any legal buck. The restricted tag allows hunters to shoot a buck with at least four points on one side. The LPDMI is a group of 12 to 15 deer hunters who would like to see more 21⁄2-year-old bucks in Michigan’s deer population. “We have two proposals in front of hunters in Michigan,” said LPDMI’s Tony Smith. “One is for the balance of Zone 2 (excluding the 12 counties in the northwestern Lower that are already under an APR and the TB zone) and the other is for all of Zone 3. Both of the proposals would protect about 70 percent of the year-and-a-half-old bucks.” Surveys to guage support for the proposed APRs were sent to 3,000 individuals who hunt in Zone 2 and 2,300 who hunt in Zone 3. The surveys were paid for by LPDMI, but are being processed by the DNR. In order for the process of tabulating the surveys to go forward, at least 50 percent of them must be returned for each proposal. In order for the DNR to recommend a change in legal buck status, at least 66 percent of those surveyed must be in favor of such a change. “Sample sizes for both surveys were increased a bit .... This was needed because respondents to harvest surveys indicate the county or DMU in which they hunt, but seven counties are split by the Zone 2 and Zone 3 boundary line. Thus, some people that hunt in these counties would fall into Zone 2 and some in Zone 3,” Rudolph said. “To account for the fact that some people would need to indicate on the APR survey that they do not hunt in the proposed APR area, we increased the sample for the Zone 2 area to 3,000, and the sample for the Zone 3 area to 2,300.” If there is 66 percent or more support for one or both proposals, the DNR would then make a recommendation for a change in the regulation and present it to the Natural Resources Commission for approval. Rudolph said that in case there is a change, the NRC must receive such a proposal by its May 8 meeting. The NRC would then accept public comment for a month and vote on such a proposal at its June 12 meeting. “We need to meet that timeframe so that if there is a change we have time to get it into the appropriate (hunting) digest,” Rudolph said. The proposals have been contentious among Michigan deer hunters, with some favoring an APR and others opposed. Tom Lounsbury is a member of United Sportsmen Alliance, which supports voluntary APRs, but opposes mandatory APRs like those being proposed. “We’re hoping that a majority of hunters agree with the fact that a quality buck is in the eyes of the beholder,” Lounsbury said. “I would hate to see lost hunting opportunities because you have to count points.” Rudolph acknowledged that there has been some concern by hunters about nonresidents being included in the survey. “In our recent hunter surveys, about 2 percent of hunters are from outside the state,” Rudolph said. “With a random survey you’d expect to get some of those people. About 1.4 percent of the hunters in the ongoing survey did reside outside Michigan. We don’t specifically target nonresidents, but sometimes there are nonresidents who receive a survey.” At 1.4 percent, about 32 nonresidents were surveyed for the Zone 3 proposal and 45 for the Zone 2 proposal.
Posts: 2280 | From: Michigan | Registered: Apr 2007
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The NRC requires that sponsoring groups pay for any APR survey. It was actually other hunters who demanded this requirement of other hunters and hunting groups.
And since 66% approval is required to pass the NRC's own threshold, one would assume the folks against APR's would be happy to survey hunters. The survey is NOT a vote. It's essentially symbolic, other than to gauge support or opposition of APR's. But, given that the last 3 occasions, in Leelanau county, Beaver Island and the NW12 the super majority of over 66% said they wanted to try APR's for a 5 year trial, I can see where those against APR's no longer want to survey other hunters.
Surveys are just that, surveys. The cost of sending out 650,000 surveys is beyond redundant and wasteful, when a much smaller survey gives you the same data. It's for this reason political pollsters can judge elections involving 100,000,000 people by surveying 1000.
But if you want a bigger survey, perhaps MLA could pay for the next survey? The APR survey process is open to any group who wishes to participate. MLA can certainly follow the survey process and pay for their own survey.
The current surveys of 5300 is going to run around $7000 each, so roughly $15,000 combined. Figure around $3 per survey. So if you want to survey all Michigan deer hunters, MLA will have to raise about $1,830,000.00. I'm not sure how many members are in MLA, but it's going to be a ton of legwork per member to raise a million eight, on a question we know for sure over 60% want to approve for a trial period. The big question is, is it 60% or 67% who want to try APR's for 5 years?
QDMA in Michigan has roughly 5000 dues paying members. I'm not sure if there's a larger deer hunting org in the state. The folks that have done the legwork on this survey have done an incredible job of holding numerous public meetings across the state and raising money for surveys that very well may come up short.
Keep in mind, even if 80% of hunters surveyed say they want to try APR's for 5 years, the NRC is under no order to do so. The NRC is merely using the surveys to judge public sentiment, nothing more. The surveys are not a vote. 100% of those surveyed can vote yes for APR's and the NRC can simply toss the results away and say they need more time to "study" the issue.
Point of sale surveys prove to be the least accurate. The current POS surveys are only getting around 60% compliance. Worse is the bias in the clerk asking the question. Worse yet is the fact that over 50% of Michigan deer license sales are in a 48 hour period before firearms opener. A clerk with 10 guys in line and a business owner wanting to sell actual merchandise will simply click yes or no on everyone, to speed up the line. And those buying their license the evening before firearms opener won't be the type to bother to check their receipt for a survey they didn't even know existed, because they were never asked.
Posts: 2280 | From: Michigan | Registered: Apr 2007
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