Chronic Wasting Disease baiting and feeding ban draws criticism

Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 9:28 PM EDT
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The Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted as a panel to continue a ban on baiting and feeding in parts of Michigan.

The ban is in effect in all of Lower Michigan, and in parts of Menominee, Delta, and Dickinson counties. The rest of the Upper Peninsula is not impacted.

The ban is an attempt to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, following one case found in the area last year.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that impacts animals such as elk, deer, and moose. There is no cure for CWD.

Critics say CWD is not a problem in the Upper Peninsula.

State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, is a vocal opponent of the ban, stating that the U.P. doesn't have a contaminated deer population.

"So, banning baiting and feeding, even if we had CWD, would not limit the spread whatsoever and there is zero scientific evidence to prove that banning baiting or feeding does anything whatsoever," says LaFave.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources used scientific research on CWD from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. According to the technical report, baiting and feeding causes unnatural concentrations of deer and other impacted wildlife.

Therefore, a ban is the best option to stop the spread of the fatal illness.

However, Rep. LaFave says he's working with other politicians on a constitutional amendment, to change the ban for the long term.

The amendment would create a U.P. specific division of the Natural Resources Commission, voted on by Upper Peninsula natives. It would have jurisdiction over all terrestrial land animals.

"I think we have broad bipartisan support," says LaFave. "We think this baiting ban is useless, people are going to break the law. It's not going to help deer. In fact, it's going to decimate the hunting population which leads to more deer and more spread of disease."

In an email, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says, "The Department maintains that repetitive baiting and feeding is not natural, artificially concentrates deer, and increases the likelihood of transmission where the disease is present."

Rep. LaFave expects the amendment to be ready in the coming weeks.