CWD emergence has Michigan eyeing tighter baiting


Mar 11, 2001
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DNR wants tighter baiting restrictions

By Bill Parker, Michigan Outdoor News Editor


Lansing — Simplifying licensing procedures and protecting the state’s whitetail population from the possibility of disease are the two main goals of deer hunting regulation changes currently being proposed.

The DNR Wildlife Division last week presented a series of proposals to the state Natural Resources Commission regarding the 2002 deer hunting season. Among the proposals are tighter baiting restrictions in most areas, the elimination of early and late antlerless seasons outside the seven designated TB counties, the elimination of supplemental feeding statewide, and a simplified application process for private land antlerless permits.

“What the commission wanted us to do was to look at ways to simplify the regs,” explained Pete Squibb, supervisor of the DNR Wildlife management section. “That’s what we’ve tried to do with some of these regs.

“On the other hand, CWD (chronic wasting disease) in Wisconsin has shed a whole lot of light on bringing animals together in unnatural numbers.”

The emergence of CWD in Wisconsin whitetails has forced wildlife managers to take a hard look at deer management policy here in Michigan. Since it’s believed CWD is spread through close contact, the DNR is proposing a statewide ban on supplemental feeding and a statewide limit of two gallons of bait for recreational viewing and hunting, except in the seven TB counties where a baiting ban would resume. The two-gallon limit would be enforced in the Upper Peninsula where five gallons were allowed last year.
“We’ve had discussions with a lot of U.P deer hunter groups and so far they have all been supportive,” Squibb said. “I think everyone recognizes the seriousness of CWD and they are willing to do what it takes to (protect) against it.”

Last year the, NRC conducted a controversial experiment and allowed one gallon of bait to be used in DMU 452 — the core area of the TB outbreak — in an effort to increase the harvest there. Under the new proposal, a baiting ban would return to DMU 452 and the other three TB counties. Baiting would be illegal in Alpena, Otsego, Alcona, Montmorency, Oscoda, Presque Isle and Crawford counties.

“Ninety-eight percent of the TB-positive deer found since 1995 have come from those seven counties,” Squibb said.

These baiting and feeding restrictions would remain in effect for five years before being re-evaluated.

“With feeding and baiting, the problem occurs with changing regulations on a yearly basis, or every couple years,” Squibb said. “It’s very difficult for people to understand and very difficult to enforce.”

A baiting ban has been in effect in the TB counties for several years, but conservation officers are having a hard time enforcing the ban, officials say. In an effort to give COs more leverage, another proposal establishes that landowners can be held responsible for illegal baiting on their land.

“On most private land, the landowner knows what’s going on and who is hunting,” Squibb said. “Landowners should be held responsible for what takes place on their land, just like car owners are responsible for whoever is driving their car.”

Another proposal calls for an early and a late antlerless season in the seven TB counties only. This is a change from the widespread antlerless season that were held in numerous deer management units in the past. The September antlerless season in DMU 55 (parts of the Upper Peninsula’s Menominee and Delta counties) will continue.
In an effort to simplify the licensing process for antlerless tags the DNR is proposing the following:

•Eliminate the need for a tax ID number for private land permits;

• Eliminate the individual limit of three antlerless permits and allow hunters to purchase private land antlerless permits over the counter at a rate of one per day until all licenses have been sold;

• Youth hunters can purchase an antlerless permit through Aug. 1, which is prior to the regular purchase period for antlerless permits;

• Continue a lottery drawing for public land antlerless permits.

“Most of these changes are being made to simplify the procedure,” Squibb said.
A couple other changes the DNR is proposing are:

•Eliminate the .44 caliber or bigger requirement for muzzleloaders. This would allow for the use of sabot slugs, which sometimes are smaller than .44 caliber;

• Prohibit the rehabilitation of deer from a TB county;

• Allow a person with a disability permit to hunt from a standing vehicle with a firearm, on private land only, during the third weekend of October.
“This is a very limited permit issued to people who are physically unable to walk very far. There are probably a few dozen issued at most,” Squibb said.

These proposals were presented to the NRC at its May meeting and will be voted on at the June meeting in East Tawas.  

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