TRAVERSE CITY — Department of Natural Resources officers recently spent hours investigating a report of a dead deer in someone’s truck in Wexford County.
Officials tried to verify whether the deer was picked up off the side of the road or had been illegally shot. Deer are protected from hunting outside of their designated hunting season, when populations are most robust.
“We have a season and it’s usually in the fall and after the season the deer are obviously vulnerable, due to winter conditions,” said Lt. Dave Shaw, supervisor of the law enforcement division at the DNR in Cadillac.
Shaw worries a new bill could make determining a deer’s cause of death even more difficult.
The state Senate recently passed a bill that would allow people to collect certain roadkill — including deer — without first obtaining a permit. People would still have to report the collection of large game to law enforcement officials or take note of small game for future records.
“How do you verify if it was actually hit by a car or just shot?” Shaw said. “Our concern is it may create a loophole for illegal possession.”
State Sen. Darwin Booher introduced the bill. He represents northern Michigan counties including Leelanau, Kalkaska and Benzie counties. It was sent to the state House after passing the Senate.
“Several of my constituents said, ‘Darwin, why can’t we pick up the animal and take it for bait, why can’t we take it home and eat it if we want?,’” Booher said. “It would be a savings to our road commissions, a savings to our sheriff’s departments, and a savings to the Michigan State Police, so those things make sense to me, instead of leaving it on the road to rot.”
Booher said he has a personal interest in the bill because he’s hit 11 deer and totaled four cars since being elected to state office nine years ago.