DNR check station remains active on highway

BIG RAPIDS -- A familiar scene in previous deer firearm seasons, specifically the second and third day, have been the DNR check stations at the U.S. 131 rest areas south of Big Rapids.

But the scene may be no more.

DNR wildlife biologist Karen Cleveland of Lansing said the U.S. 131 area especially attracted hunters who were up north and are traveling back home to Lower Michigan.

On Saturday, there were 85 hunters who stopped by.

"It's a little slower than last year," Cleveland said. "When someone brings in a deer, we try to check the age by looking at the amount of wear on the teeth. If it's a buck, we take some antler measurements as well. It's an area where we're trying to do testing for disease surveillance and try to take the deer head for testing. We have a nice chat with hunters to see what they're seeing in the woods.

"They haven't seen any sign of feral swine which is good news. Basically, they've been happy with the animals they've been bringing in. We've been seeing some nice buicks and big bodied does as well."

Cleveland said the DNR is reviewing the number of check stations. The highway check stations are only open for two days.

Other stations where DNR staff is usually connected, stay open throughout the hunting season.