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Local News Summary - August 15, 2018 Edition

NEMCSA gives presentation at county board meeting
The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary, this year, and Frances Whitney, outreach and communication specialist with NEMCSA, gave a presentation on the organization at the regular Aug. 8 county board meeting. Getting the word out, she said, is important.

“We are so large, and we have so many programs. It’s a necessary thing that we do,” Whitney explained.

The organization aims to provide for and empower people fighting poverty through 35 programs, so they can become self-sufficient. NEMCSA offers three early childhood programs, three community-based care programs and client services including food assistance, weatherization, housing assistance and help with heat and utility costs.

NEMCSA also offers three programs for older individuals, a school success partnership for youths, three volunteer opportunities and two community development programs. Of the $51 million budget, Whitney said only four percent is used for administration.

According to Whitney, in 2017, more than 3,000 children received early childhood services, 8,949 homes received food boxes, 612,374 meals were provided to seniors and homebound individuals, 22,076 youths enhanced their academic careers, volunteers donated 283,133 hours and $459,464 was spent in emergency assistance payments.

NEMCSA currently has funds available for propane and wood. Funding for other services will begin at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Road commission health care benefits discussed
Like county entities, statewide, the Montmorency County Road Commission is burdened with developing a plan to fund future health care benefits. At the regular Aug. 9 commission board meeting, Todd Behring, road commission manager, said the road commission must to come up with about $364,000 to meet the required 40 percent of funding for the future.

From 2009-2011, the commission was setting money aside for the unfunded liability, but those contributions came to a halt. There is currently $36,000 in that fund, but Behring said it’s a far cry from the $400,000 needed. At payments of $24,000 per year, he estimated it would take the road commission about 13 years to satisfy the 40 percent funding requirement.

The commission has 45 days to apply for a waiver and submit an action plan.

“We are working toward a solution,” he said.

Natural Resources Commission approves deer regulations related to CWD
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission has approved a series of deer hunting regulations aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease. The action came after months of commission members and Department of Natural Resources staff hearing from hunters, residents and others interested in the long-term health of the state’s deer population, and a thorough review of the best available science on chronic wasting disease.

CWD is a fatal neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in cervids – deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. There is no cure; once an animal is infected, it will die.

The disease first was discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in May 2015. To date, more than 31,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for chronic wasting disease, and CWD has been confirmed in 60 free-ranging deer in six Michigan counties: Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm.

The approved deer hunting regulations, which will be in effect for the 2018 deer seasons unless noted otherwise, include:

• A statewide ban on the use of all natural cervid urine-based lures and attractants, except for lures that are approved by the Archery Trade Association.

• An immediate ban on baiting and feeding in the 16-county area identified as the CWD Management Zone. This area includes Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Shiawassee counties.

• A ban on baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula, effective Jan. 31, 2019, with an exception to this ban for hunters with disabilities who meet specific requirements. The start date on this regulation is intended to allow bait producers and retailers time to adjust to the new rule.

• Effective immediately in the CWD Management Zone and four-county bovine tuberculosis area (in Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties), hunters with disabilities who meet specific requirements can now use 2 gallons of single-bite bait, such as shelled corn, during the Liberty and Independence hunts.

• Allowance of all legal firearms to be used in muzzleloader season in the CWD Management Zone.

• A purchase limit of 10 private-land antlerless licenses per hunter in the CWD Management Zone.

• Restrictions on deer carcass movement in the five-county CWD Core Area (Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties) and the CWD Management Zone.

• Antlerless options on deer licenses/combo licenses during firearms seasons in the five-county CWD Core Area.

• Expansion of early and late antlerless seasons in select counties.

• Changes to regulations regarding wildlife rehabilitators.

In addition, the commission asked the DNR to move forward with:

• An experimental mandatory antler point restriction regulation in a five-county CWD Core Area, including Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties. The restriction would begin in 2019, provided a survey of hunters shows support for the requirement and specific department guidelines are met. This is intended as a tool to evaluate the effects of antler point restrictions on the spread and prevalence of CWD, along with deer population reduction.

• A hunter-submitted proposal for mandatory antler point restrictions in Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, St. Clair and Lapeer counties. If hunter surveys support this regulation and specific department guidelines are met, it would be implemented in 2019.

These regulations come after much collaborative work to better understand the scope and pathways of CWD and best management actions. In Oct. 2017, Michigan hosted a CWD symposium that brought together roughly 200 wildlife scientists and other experts from across the country.

Recommendations and public outreach
Shortly after the symposium, the DNR and the Natural Resources Commission announced the creation of a nine-member Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group. This group was charged with developing recommendations on additional steps and actions to substantially mitigate CWD in Michigan, and in Jan. presented initial recommendations centered around messaging, partnership funding, regional management, and the importance of continuing a solid science-based approach.

Throughout April and May of this year, the DNR hosted a series of public engagement meetings in Bay City, Cadillac, Detroit, DeWitt, Gaylord, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Newberry and Rockford. These meetings provided many opportunities for the DNR to share the latest information and recommendations about CWD, while encouraging the public to offer their best ideas on how to slow the disease.

During this outreach period, more than 650 peopled attend public engagement meetings, and the DNR received comments and suggestions via 361 hard-copy surveys and 135 online surveys.

More information on regulations
Details on all regulations will be added to the online hunting digests on the DNR website, and DNR staff will be available at deer-check stations during the hunting seasons, too. More information about these regulations also will be posted to the website. For additional questions, contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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Robert C. Moran

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