State Proposes to Lift Baiting Ban During Hunting Season

Last year Michigan instituted a sweeping ban on baiting in the Lower Peninsula as part of an effort to combat Chronic Wasting Disease. The ban went into effect 31 January 2019 and the State Senate is already trying to amend it.

According to Michigan Live, Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, would lift bans on feeding the animals, and allow for baiting during open hunting season. The pair is not convinced the practice of baiting or feeding animals is correlated to the disease’s spread and they believe the practice should be allowed to continue.

During a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing this week, VanderWall told lawmakers chronic wasting disease is “a very serious issue,” but believes that the ban would have the opposite effect.

“In my view, baiting is a tool that helps us manage the herd,” he told lawmakers. “Less hunters means less harvested, which is bad for herd management – it could even lead to an increase in CWD and other diseases.”

The Department of Natural Resources opposes the bill. They contend that the decision to ban baiting was not taken lightly and feel it is the best thing to do to protect the deer herd.

“The science is out there indicating that these kind of practices on the landscape do in fact make things worse with disease transmission, do in fact lead to different contact rates between animals that would otherwise not normally contact each other,” said Dr. Kelly Straka, state wildlife veterinarian for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.

It seems Michigan hunters are divided on the issue with some wanting to keep the ban and other supporting the bill. The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law. It still needs to pass the committe, both houses and be signed by the govenor.