This month’s discussion topic is in response to a specific request from the Kirk’s Community Group in Livingston County. Thank you, Barb and Joe Parker, for the request! If you have a discussion topic idea you think is worth sharing with CAG members statewide, share it by emailing Jeremy.
By Andrew Vermeesch
The issue of baiting and feeding free range deer in Michigan may be one of the most controversial hunting regulations for hunters and farmers alike. The debate escalated again recently when the state implemented a complete ban on baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula that went into effect in 2019.
Individuals who are opposed suggest artificial baiting and feeding increases an unnatural concentration of the deer herd outside their normal environment, and that it brings together groups of deer that otherwise would likely not cross paths.
Furthermore, opponents argue that baiting and feeding increases the likelihood of contaminated fluids being passed from one animal to another as they eat from the same pile — circumstances which would not occur in their natural settings. This is extremely concerning for livestock farmers worried about the threat of free-range deer infecting their cattle with bovine tuberculosis.
Supporters of baiting and feeding often state that baiting deer is just one variable in disease management and that other factors (like population density) play a larger role in controlling disease threats.
By allowing baiting, hunters have a better chance at harvesting deer and lowering their population, which will have a greater impact on reducing disease transmission. Furthermore, a complete ban throughout the entire state is unnecessary because there are many areas in Michigan that do not have known disease pressures.
Lastly, the ban on baiting and feeding directly impacts many Michigan farmers because a lot of them grow that feed, providing them with an alternative market for their commodities.
Submit your responses via email or mail to MFB Community Group Discussion, ATTN: Michelle Joseph, 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48909. Please include your group’s name so we can give credit where it’s due!
Andrew Vermeesch is an MFB Legislative Counsel specializing in wildlife issues. He works closely with the Michigan Legislature, Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Commission advocating our member-developed policy.