A bill recently introduced to the Michigan Senate could effectively remove the ban on deer baiting.
Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) introduced a bill on Thursday to reduce the penalty for violating the ban on deer baiting to $1. Unlawfully baiting is currently considered a misdemeanor and can garner up to 90 days in jail and the possible loss of a hunting license, according to MLive.
Deer baiting, which is used to lure animals to make it easier to hunt them, is currently banned in all of the Lower Peninsula and in some areas of the Upper Peninsula in an effort to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease.
CWD is a contagious, neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The fatal disease is caused by a normal protein, called a prion, incorrectly folding. It is transmitted through direct animal to animal contact or through saliva, urine, feces, blood, carcass parts of an infected animal or infected soil.
The disease gives animal a “zombie-like” appearance that made headlines last year.
Michigan legislators have previously tried to overturn the ban, including a bill that passed the legislature in early December before being vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Stamas said he believes reducing the size of deer herds is an important part of preventing the spread of both CWD and bovine tuberculosis, which can affect humans. There are currently no known cases of CWD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I believe ending the baiting ban is an important first step in reducing the size of Michigan’s deer herd, as the size of the herd is contributing to the spread of diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine TB,” Stamas said in a statement. “Bovine TB is persistent in wild deer and continues to threaten the livelihoods of area dairy and cattle farmers in northeast Michigan.
Stamas introduced the bill after bovine TB was confirmed in a beef herd in northeast Michigan, the 77th cattle herd diagnosed with bovine TB in Michigan since 1998.
“We’ve spent over $150 million since 1998 on bovine TB and still haven’t solved the problem,” Stamas said. “It’s disappointing and upsetting that state officials continue to pursue the same strategy that has failed to protect Michigan cattle farmers and failed to eliminate bovine TB in our state.”
Stamas said he is ready to work with “anyone to identify a better solution” than banning deer baiting.
“Last year we voted to end the baiting ban for the rifle deer hunting season, but the governor vetoed the legislation,” Stamas said. “If we cannot end the baiting ban, then we should take steps to make it obsolete. This is a serious issue, and the status quo isn’t working.”
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]