There was very good attendance at the monthly meeting of the
Beaver Island Wildlife Club. This special meeting was held at
the Peaine Township Hall to accommodate our guest speaker, Brian
Mastenbrook, wildlife biologist with the DNR. Brian has been working
with us for the last two years as we collect data and promote
wildlife habitat on the Island. His presence on the Island is
an encouragement to us since he walks and inspects miles of habitat
and is able to make hands-on suggestions.
Brian began by praising us for our efforts to obtain data that
will help the DNR determine the health, population, and future
of our whitetail deer on Beaver Island. You may recall that we
had two major projects in place last year. One was the driving
survey done for the census. For six weeks, 10 people drove a designated
stretch of Island roads at least three times a week at the same
time each day and recorded the number of does, bucks, and fawns.
The other project was to sponsor a successful hunter contest.
By checking your legal deer, buck, or doe, at one of our check-in
spots, you could be eligible to win a 12-gauge shotgun in a drawing.
Brian told us he had never had access to the amount of information
we were gathering. The DNR determines the health of the herd by
the measured beam diameter of 1-1/2 year old bucks. The numbers
of points on those bucks are also indicative of health. Compared
to bucks in the UP and the NLP (Northern Lower Peninsula), which
is the closest to our type of habitat, our bucks fall short of
the desired beam and points. A UP buck averaged a 17.1 beam and
3-4 points. A NLP buck was essentially the same. A Beaver buck
averaged only a 14.7 beam. What is most alarming is that the beams
are getting smaller. From 2001-2003 the beams were 15.9. From
1987-2000 the beams were 16.6. Brian interprets this to mean that
our habitat needs improvement.
The successful hunter contest gave us valuable information about
the harvest. Although we estimate that we checked only about 50%
of the harvest it still is a step toward compiling very important
data. The records show that of the 200 deer checked, 50% were
bucks and 50% were does. He sees that as a healthy harvest. As
a club we will have the contest again and offer a very nice prize.
We encourage you to take advantage of this while helping to strengthen
our herd and make hunting a continuing reality on this Island.
There will still be 900 antlerless permits available for 2004.
The fact remains that we have too many deer. Couple that with
poor habitat and that spells trouble in the future. Habitat planting
is progressing, but slowly. Grooming fields that haven't been
used for years is an arduous and costly job. The process to get
DNR permits to work fields is often bogged down. Brian has taken
an active role in facilitating this. He is also working on non-commercial
harvest of state owned Aspen forests since private timber sales
are cost-prohibitive. Another angle to be explored would be to
issue permits for people to cut in a designated 40-acre area.
Stay tuned for future news and updates from you wildlife club.
Lois Williams, secretary
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