LANSING, Mich. — Starting with the fall 2022 deer seasons, online harvest reporting is required for all hunters who successfully take a deer, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
Nearly 7,000 deer hunters voluntarily reporter their deer harvest online in 2021 to help test the Michigan DNR’s new reporting system.
The DNR’s deer, elk and moose management specialist, Chad Stewart, says the department is moving to online harvest reporting for several reasons, but one of the most important reasons is more precise data.
“The decline in response rate to our post-season mail surveys increases the amount of uncertainty in our harvest estimates, which can lead to incorrect regulation recommendations in some locations,” Steward said.
“20 years ago, 75-percent of recipients responded to the survey, but in recent years, we have seen a response rate consistently under 40-percent,” added Brian Frawley, the DNR wildlife biologist who manages the surveys, added. “If we’re going to provide hunters, wildlife managers and the Michigan Natural Resources Commission with timely, accurate data, we need to change how we collect it.”
Hunters will have up to 72 hours after taking a deer to report their harvest.
The DNR says it should only take about three to five minutes to complete the report and there are two ways to do so:
- Online at the state’s website
- The DNR’s new mobile app, available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store
Hunters who can’t report their harvest because of a lack of internet access or smart device can get help from a family member or friend with access, by providing them with their kill tag license number, date of birth and harvest location to report on the hunter’s behalf.
Reporting to the DNR by phone is not possible because of the need for accurate harvest location data, which is provided by selecting the location on a digital map.
The DNR says some hunters expressed concern about sharing their harvest location, but Stewart stressed the confidentiality and value of that accurate data and how it helps the DNR and, ultimately, hunters.
“While we will have near real-time harvest data available for hunters throughout the season on our website, the data is at the county level,” Stewart explained. “Only the DNR will have access to the GPS coordinates of the actual harvest location, which is needed for two very important reasons: more effective disease surveillance and the ability to build a network of harvest locations over time so we can adapt management guidelines to better align with harvest numbers. That means better overall management recommendations for Michigan’s deer population.”
The DNR says its move to require online harvest reporting will take time for Michigan hunters to embrace, but the DNR believes the ease of reporting and the benefits of better data will outweigh any initial concerns some may have.
This first year, 2022, will be about familiarizing hunters with the new reporting requirement.
“Above all, we know Michigan’s deer hunters care about quality hunting opportunities and healthy deer herds. Each online harvest report takes just a few minutes but provides critical information about hunting experiences and deer abundance all over the state,” Stewart added.
If you have any questions related to deer harvest reporting, the DNR’s website has answers to frequently asked questions.
If you have technical difficulties with the new online reporting system, help is available at a variety of locations throughout the state or by calling (517) 284-9453.