Hunters helping farmers bill heads to governor

LANSING — Farmers and other landowners may soon be able to enlist the help of hunters to manage the number of deer on their properties under legislation sent to the governor on Thursday, said bill sponsor Sen. John Proos.

“Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry, yet each year hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of crops are lost due to nuisance deer,” said Proos. “The problem has been exacerbated over the years as the number of deer has increased. This new program will allow hunters to help our farmers protect their crops and keep the deer populations in check.”

Senate Bill 717 establishes a “Hunters Helping Landowners” program within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Individuals willing to help hunt nuisance deer would submit an application to the DNR and indicate and up to two Michigan counties in which they are interested in hunting. Landowners who feel they need additional antlerless deer harvested on their property would contact the DNR and request a list of those who have expressed interest in hunting in their county.

“I sponsored this measure to connect farmers experiencing crop losses and potential hunters who have expressed interest in helping reduce the number of excess deer,” Proos said. “Modeled after an Indiana initiative, it is designed to complement an earlier reform that gives landowners with significant crop damage more flexibility in managing deer on their property.”

Public Act 65, also sponsored by Proos, allows an individual holding a DNR deer damage shooting permit to include up to 15 authorized shooters to implement the permit. The bill became law in March.

“Southwest Michigan families know about the importance of agriculture to our region and way of life,” Proos said. “Both of these common-sense preventative measures will allow our family farmers to protect their livelihoods and the crops that fuel a multi-billion dollar industry and support thousands of Michigan jobs.”

SB 717 has been sent to the governor, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”