Action Alert: New Michigan Baiting Bills Bad for CWD

March 12, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

A package of bills recently introduced in the Michigan Senate is aimed at legalizing or reducing the penalty for baiting deer in the state. Senate Bill 37 would legalize the baiting of deer, and alternatively, Senate Bill 800 would reduce the penalty for baiting deer in Michigan to just $1.

SB 37, introduced by Senator Curtis VanderWall (R-35th), would remove the authority of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to regulate deer baiting and feeding in the state, and, at the same time, make baiting and feeding deer, including during open deer seasons, legal. Deer baiting "means the depositing, distributing, or tending of feed in an area frequented by wild, free-ranging white-tailed deer or elk to aid in the taking of deer."

SB 800, introduced by a host of Senators, reads as amended: "An individual who violates a provision of this part or an order or interim order issued under this part regarding the baiting of deer or the taking of deer over bait is responsible for a state civil infraction and may be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $1.00."

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) prioritizes deer diseases as one of its priority areas, and chronic wasting disease falls squarely within this priority area. NDA supports scientifically supported practices that slow the spread of CWD for the long-term benefit of deer, hunters, and the hunting industry, but does not oppose baiting as a general hunting practice. NDA also feels strongly that decisions for managing wildlife be left in the capable hands of trained and experienced professionals within state and federal wildlife management agencies.

Here, however, the Senate is removing decision-making authority regarding baiting from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and significantly down-playing the importance of the current baiting ban in Michigan with respect to disease transmission. Further, the reduced penalty will do nothing more than encourage illegal baiting of deer. Join NDA in opposing SB 37 and SB 800; urge your Representatives to vote NO on the bills. Visit the NDA Grassroots Advocacy Center, where you can place your votes of opposition on the bills and directly email your state Senators.