Hunters among those affected by new laws

During the December legislative session, a few bills passed that may interest hunters.

House Bill 5711 adjusts the hunting supervision rules for children under 14. Under the old law, minor hunters between the age of 10 and 14 could hunt only under adult supervision and on private land. This included private land that is open to the public, including land enrolled in the Commercial Forest Resource program. It excluded state-owned public land.

Supporters of HB 5711 argued the exclusion of public state-owned land was an oversight, according to legislative analysis available on legislature.mi.gov.

Besides including public land, the bill also allows a minor hunter over the age of 10 to hunt unsupervised on land where a parent or guardian is “regularly domiciled.”

House Bill 5321 temporarily prohibits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from issuing any new permits for sterilizing game animals, until April of 2022.

Sterilization of deer has been an issue for the DNR ever since they issued a permit to the city of Ann Arbor to tranquilize and sterilize some deer as part of a study into whether that was a feasible way to manage the burgeoning urban deer population. The study, and corresponding permit, are unique in the state.

According to the legislative analysis, some residents believe that the excess deer population should simply be culled, and the meat given to local food banks. Others contend that there are too many homes that are too close together, and with schools and other buildings mixed in, errors during culling are too likely to lead to human injury or death.

HB 5321 prevents any new permits from being issued, but also allows Ann Arbor to complete its study, in which it has invested $370,000. Results of the study are required to be reported to appropriate legislative committees when the study completes in March of 2022, just before the bill sunsets. The legislature hopes to be able to make a more informed decision at that time.

Meanwhile, the bill also authorizes the Natural Resources committee to set up special deer management zones near urban areas where extra licenses can be issued.