Deer Baiting Ban Could Not Be Lifted Until After Firearm Season

“It’s going to be a really bad year.”

Opening day is this Friday, but some local hunters think the woods will be a little emptier this year, and it has to do with the baiting ban.

Deer baiting is banned in the Lower Peninsula and parts of the U.P.

It was put in place by the state to try and slow the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The Michigan Senate voted Wednesday to reverse the ban.

“Getting a bill through the governor’s desk really is a tedious and long process,” State Representative Michele Hoitenga said.

But Hoitenga tells us there’s support for a bill to lift the baiting ban.

The Senate passed it with some changes Wednesday.

“We want to make sure we’re not hurting farmers in the TB zones and so one of the legislators asked if we could put in an amendment that would keep the baiting ban within the TB zones of Michigan,” Hoitenga said.

The National Resources Commission says the ban is to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease, but representative Hoitenga says she’s heard from scientists that have an opposite opinion.

“If we ban the bait then the deer have more places to congregate together. That’s what spreads CWD. If we keep the baiting it will allow them to go other places and spread out instead of them rubbing their noses together and swapping the spit,” she said.

Lifelong hunter and business owner Carl Johnson says the ban is hurting his bottom line.

“I’ve sold probably 40% less guns this year than other years,” Johnson said.

And he’s sold a significantly lower number of hunting licenses.

“Well normally like last year I sold a little over 500 licenses, deer hunting licenses. And this year it’s a little over 50,” he said.

The House needs to approve the changes before sending the bill to the governor, who does not support it.

Even if she did, the ban wouldn’t be lifted until after firearm season ends.

So resilient hunters are finding other ways.

“Most of my friends are going to the up where you can still bait so a lot of hunters are going up there this year,” Johnson said.