Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MICHIGAN NEWS: State Lawmakers To Reverse Deer Baiting Ban

I think I've seen this movie before. It has a bad ending. -TR

A trio of state lawmakers called on DNR Director Rebecca Humphries to rescind a ban on deer baiting in the Lower Peninsula that was enacted in response to an outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease on a game farm in Kent County.

State Reps. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City, and Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch, along with state Sen. James Barcia, D-Bay City, said the economic impact on the growers of bait crops could be devastating, and that reductions in the deer harvest by hunters who stay home rather than go into the field without bait could actually contribute to the spread of the disease (as larger herds congregate).

The Natural Resources Commission put the ban in place last month, citing the danger of the disease spreading among animals gathering over bait piles. But it has been hugely unpopular with many hunters and among farmers who depend on the sale of bait crops like carrots and sugar beets.

The lawmakers said they hope to have the resolutions taken up next week in the House and Senate. But it was not immediately clear what their impact would be because of questions over what authority the Legislature has to dictate policy on natural resources issues.

DNR spokeswoman Mary Detloff issued the following statement at mid-day today in response to the proposed resolutions:

“Two diseases have been found in Michigan deer that were not here historically. Those diseases (bovine tuberculosis and CWD) can be spread among deer by close contact with other deer through their saliva, nasal secretions, or (in the case of CWD) droppings. Concentrating deer activity at bait sites increases the likelihood that diseases will be passed from deer to deer.

"The DNR doubts that most people would say 'yes' to the question: Are you willing to risk causing Michigan's deer herd to be sick from chronic disease from this day forward just so that you can use bait?

"We firmly believe hunters want to pass a healthy deer herd on to the next generation. That is why it is important to stop baiting. Deer hunting generates a $500-million economic impact to the state each year, and a disease like CWD poses a grave threat to that if it is in the wild deer population. The impact of CWD in the wild herd would hurt many small businesses around the state -- many of whom do not sell bait.”

Source: Detroit Free Press

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