An Open Letter to Michigan QDMA Members and Deer Hunters from CEO Brian Murphy
Dear QDMA Supporter,
I have been honored to serve as CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) since 1997. For 16 of those 21 years, I have been actively engaged with chronic wasting disease (CWD) and have witnessed the fear, panic, mistrust and divisiveness it can cause. As the leader of the organization that has changed the face of modern deer hunting during this same period, it troubles me greatly that almost no progress has been made managing this dreaded disease.
To date, CWD has been detected in 25 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Perhaps most concerning, the response – and eventual outcome – has been nearly identical in every situation. Deer herd reduction is attempted and efforts to protect young bucks are often abandoned. Based on our current understanding of CWD, these actions may have some merit. But, fact is, they have consistently failed to eliminate or prevent the spread of CWD. We keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Over the past decade, QDMA has developed a tremendous working relationship with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and have worked collaboratively on many important issues. Recently, the QDMA Michigan State Advisory Committee, with input from the QDMA National Office, submitted a comprehensive CWD deer management plan to the DNR for consideration. A key part of this plan was the use of antler point restrictions (APRs) in CWD management zones to motivate hunters to stay engaged, take advantage of increased opportunities to harvest antlerless deer, and to cooperate with disease surveillance and testing. Unfortunately, the Michigan DNR elected not to implement this aspect of the plan. While APRs are not a traditional disease management strategy, some states like Pennsylvania continue to use APRs in their CWD management areas. We argue it is time to try a new approach in Michigan – especially when APRs are embraced by the majority of the state’s deer hunters.
The only way CWD will be effectively managed over the long-haul is through a true partnership between hunters and the DNR. Consequently, I am calling on you to contact members of the Natural Resources Commission by June 30, 2018 and ask them to direct the DNR to take an innovative approach to CWD by incorporating APRs with achievable and meaningful antlerless harvest and disease testing goals. This would also send a clear message that the DNR understands that engaged hunters are critical to effective CWD management, agency relevancy and the future of conservation.
You may voice your opinion by telephone, email or by speaking at either the June or July NRC meeting.
QDMA – it’s where deer hunters belong!