Compiled by Michigan Farmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill Dec. 19 that would have allowed baiting and feeding of deer and elk in Michigan.
Her decision, according to a news release, to veto Enrolled House Bill 4687 was based on concerns of spreading chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis through nose-to-nose contact at piles of feed or bait, which includes any food substance — salt blocks, fruits and vegetables — that attracts deer or elk as an aid in hunting, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
House Bill 4687 would have removed the Natural Resources Commission’s authority to regulate deer baiting and feeding, and instead would have allowed anyone to bait or feed during the open season for deer or elk.
The NRC has banned baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula and core CWD surveillance areas of the Upper Peninsula.
The bill came to Whitmer’s desk after the Michigan Senate voted, 21-14, in favor of repealing the ban.
“I remain fully committed to protecting Michigan’s wildlife, public health and agriculture jobs,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This legislation would’ve increased the chance of spreading wildlife disease within wildlife populations and the beef and dairy industries, which are vital to Michigan’s economy. That’s not a risk we can afford to take.
"By vetoing this legislation, the authority to ban baiting and feeding will remain with the experts at the Natural Resources Commission, in accordance with the will of the overwhelming number of Michiganders who supported proposal G. Leaving the ban in place will allow the state to continue working to curb the spread of diseases like chronic wasting disease.”
The passage of proposal G in 1996, which 68% of Michigan voters favored, gave authority for wildlife management to the Natural Resources Commission.
House Bill 4687 was opposed by the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, Michigan Gun Owners, Michigan Bow Hunters, Upper Peninsula Bear Hunters Association, Cadillac Sportsman’s Club, Michigan Sierra Club, Michigan Environmental Council and many others.
The Michigan Farm Bureau supported the governor’s decision to veto House Bill 4687, according to an online statement by MFB legislative counsel Andrew Vermeesch.
“Farm Bureau remained opposed to the legislation even after our member-developed policy on wildlife was updated earlier this month at our organization’s annual meeting,” he said. “Our updated policy position now indicates that while we support baiting as a means to increase hunter success rate, we oppose feeding of free-range deer because it creates an unnecessary risk of disease transmission without contributing to overall deer population reduction.”