Michigan hunters will have more elk licenses available but fewer bear licenses, as the Natural Resources Commission set regulations for the upcoming seasons at its April 5 meeting in Lansing.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will make 200 elk licenses available, an increase of 45 from 2011.
“We have more elk than we did last year, so we can offer more hunting opportunity while working toward our population goal,” said DNR deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph.
The NRC set two hunt periods and offered the DNR the option of a third period in January, if deemed necessary.
Elk Hunt Period 1, which is designed to target elk outside of the primary elk range, consists of three four-day hunts: Aug. 28-31, Sept. 14-17 and Sept. 28-Oct. 1. There will be 100 licenses available; 30 for any elk (which allow hunters to take bulls) and 70 antlerless-only licenses.
Elk Hunt Period 2, which focuses on the primary elk range but also offers opportunity outside the core area, is set for Dec. 8-16. There will be 100 licenses available; 30 for any elk and 70 for antlerless-only animals.
Should a third hunt period be conducted, the DNR will make a maximum of 40 licenses available.
As for bear quotas, the NRC authorized the DNR to sell 6,976 licenses for the Upper Peninsula, a decrease of 3,381 from 2011, and 1,015 licenses for the northern Lower Peninsula, a decrease of 370 from last year.
New survey data indicate the state’s bear populations are in decline and the quotas approved by the NRC should stabilize the populations in upcoming years.
“We’re pleased that we had the survey data in time to allow the NRC to make an informed decision,” said DNR bear specialist Adam Bump.
Although data will be analyzed following the bear season, it’s anticipated that license quotas will be reduced in 2013 in the northern Lower Peninsula as well, Bump said.
“We believe we can stabilize the bear population in the Upper Peninsula in two years, but it will take four years in the northern Lower Peninsula,” Bump explained.
Bear and elk applications go on sale May 1 through June 1. Applications cost $4 and are available at all license dealers or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com. Results will be posted online on June 25.