The Michigan Senate this week approved legislation, 21-14, to repeal the Lower Peninsula’s feeding and baiting ban, enacted by the Natural Resources Commission in 2018.
Before the bill can be approved or vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, it must return to the House for a final vote to accept the Senate’s amended language. Specifically, House Bill 4687 sponsored by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) will allow feeding and baiting of free-ranging elk and deer in the state for two years after the law takes effect.
“We remain opposed to the legislation based on our members’ longstanding wildlife management policy,” said Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) legislative counsel Andrew Vermeesch. “The Department of Natural Resources is also opposed. While we expect the House will approve the Senate’s changes, it’s likely the Governor will veto the bill if it makes it to her desk.”
The House version was amended to restrict individuals from baiting more than five gallons at a site. The Senate expanded on that concept to include limiting both baiting and feeding to five gallons as well as requiring the bait to be spread over 400 square feet.
Additionally, the Senate adopted an amendment prohibiting feeding and baiting in any county or deer management unit where the state has entered a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture requiring the limitation or banning of baiting or feeding.
The House amendment prohibiting antler point restrictions in areas with confirmed chronic wasting disease remains in the bill. Summarizing farmers’ concerns with the legislation, Vermeesch explained that artificial baiting and feeding increases unnatural concentration of the deer herd.
“It brings together deer that would likely not cross paths otherwise,” he said. “It also increases the likelihood of contaminated fluids being passed from one animal to another when they eat off the same pile.
“These man-made conditions contribute to an increase in prevalence for both bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease.”