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Michigan Commission lifts deer baiting ban

From the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

-- Michigan's current deer baiting and feeding ban in the Lower Peninsula was lifted June 9 in a 4-3 vote by the Natural Resources Commission. The ban was put in place since 2008 when Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was detected in a deer at a private deer breeding facility in Kent County.

Baiting will still be prohibited in Deer Management Unit 487, the six-county Bovine Tuberculosis zone in northeastern Lower Michigan. The counties where baiting will continue to be prohibited are Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle.

The board approved a proposal to allow baiting in limited quantities from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1. Hunters may place any type of bait, no more than two gallons at a time, across a 10-foot by 10-foot area per hunting location.

The board also reinstated recreational feeding of deer in the Lower Peninsula, with the exception of DMU 487. Property owners may place two gallons of bait on their property within 100 yards of their residence year-round.

A three-year sunset has been placed on the regulations, which means it will be reconsidered in 2014.

In 2008, the DNR detected the state's first case of CWD in a three year-old female deer at a private deer breeding facility in Kent County. At the time, the Department immediately banned baiting and feeding of white-tailed deer in the Lower Peninsula. The Commission then passed regulations making the ban permanent, but said it would reconsider the ban in three years, giving the DNR adequate time to perform disease testing and surveillance in the state for CWD.

In the three-year period, the DNR tested thousands of white-tailed deer for CWD, but did not detect another case.

The Commission has directed the department to work with the Legislature to strengthen penalties for baiting violations. A potential bill sponsor has been identified who supports establishing an escalating scale of penalties for repeat offenders, which would include mandatory hunting license revocation.

If hunters use bait, the DNR requests they not place bait repeatedly at the same point on the ground, and only place bait out when they are actively hunting. This may minimize the chance of direct and indirect exposure of deer to any unknown disease that may be present.

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