LANSING — The more than twoyear ban on baiting deer in the Lower Peninsula was one of the main topics at the March 10 Natural Resource Commission’s meeting.
The NRC opened a series of public discussions at the meeting that will continue with a second and third session. More public input will be heard at the NRC meetings on April 7 at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, 4125 Beaumont Road, Lansing (near MSU Campus) and May 12 at a site yet to be determined in the Genesee County Area. The NRC says it hopes to make a decision at its June 9 meeting so the results can appear in the 2011 Michigan Hunting Guide.
The NRC formed an informal commitment to review the baiting and feeding ban after allowing the Department of Natural Resources three years to test and monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease. That all came on the heels of the detection of a CWD-positive deer in a privately-owned cervid facility in Kent County in 2008. CWD is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep.
The DNR had its diagnosis confirmed by the National Veterinarian Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, then implemented the protocols of the state’s Emergency Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease. Among the protocols was an immediate ban on deer baiting and feeding in the affected peninsula. That hasn’t sat well with many hunters or recreational deer viewers, who viewed the ban as too broad and unnecessary. The fine for illegal baiting was set at anywhere from $50 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail. During the first season the ban was implemented, the state issued 611 tickets for illegal baiting. That dropped to 479 in 2010.
“In 2008 when the NRC voted to make the baiting ban permanent in the Lower Peninsula, they said they would revisit the issue in three years allowing the Department to test several thousands of deer for CWD,” said NRC Chair Tim Nichols of Fowlerville. “The result of these public discussions will be an NRC decision on whether to continue, lift or modify the deer baiting and feeding ban.”
NRC Commissioner John Madigan of Munising, who chairs the NRC’s Policy Committee on Fish and Wildlife, led the initial discussion on March 10. A presentation on deer baiting and feeding regulations in other states was also part of the discussion. At future meetings, the commission will take public input and review that with scientific and social data regarding baiting and feeding of deer.
Anyone unable to attend the set of public meetings can chime in with written comments via e-mail to deerbaiting@ michigan.gov.