State Reps. Matthew Bierlein and Mike Hoadley have introduced new legislation that provides practical solutions to the state’s controversial deer baiting ban.
The proposals allow for deer and elk baiting in some circumstances and offer clarity to existing law. Requirements for baiting will include obtaining a free license, not using more than 10 gallons of bait at any time at any site, and only using one bait site per location.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources still may limit or prohibit baiting if management units determine there is a high risk of infectious diseases being spread.
“This is a good middle ground that respects hunters while also understanding that the state is taking steps to keep diseases from spreading throughout deer populations,” said Bierlein, of Vassar. “Hunting helps conserve our environment, provides recreation, and stimulates many local economies. The current ban in place doesn’t respect these truths and is actively discouraging people from engaging in this activity.”
“If baiting can be done safely without risk of spreading diseases, it should be permissible,” said Hoadley, of Au Gres. “Hunting is an important part of our state’s heritage, and these reforms will help the state attract more hunters. No one wants to see our state’s deer population ravaged by disease, which is why these bills will continue to allow the Department of Natural Resources to provide oversight and limit or omit management areas deemed to be higher risk. This is a practical update that will work for our hunters and ongoing efforts to mitigate spread.”
Except for hunters with disabilities who meet certain requirements, baiting and feeding are banned across the entirety of the lower peninsula and in certain counties in the U.P. where surveillance for infectious diseases is ongoing. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed attempts to amend this rigid law, which comes with steep penalties.
The plans also offer additional language within law to define deer or elk baiting. This definition delineates between baiting and other actions like feeding wild birds or scattering feed for logging and agricultural purposes that do not constitute baiting but may lead to people being charged with a misdemeanor based on how the law is currently written.
House Bills 5298-99 have been referred to the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee for consideration.
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