White-tailed Deer in Michigan (Photo: Susan Tusa, Detroit Free Press)

If Senate Bill 37 comes into effect, hunters will be able to bait deer and moose again. But the measure has prompted criticism, arguing that it could jeopardize the prevention of chronic debilitating disease.

The call of deer and elk was banned as of January 31, 2019 by the Natural Resources Commission in an effort to combat chronic withering.

The Natural Resources Commission is a seven-member body appointed by the governor with the exclusive power to regulate game harvesting in the state established by Proposition G in 1996. The Commission is expected to use "the principles of sound science management to make decisions. according to the proposal.

The bill was introduced on January 16 and referred to the Natural Resources Committee. A legislative analysis was completed on April 8th.

Michigan Executive Director of Michigan Untied Conservation Clubs, Amy Trotter, said the group opposed the circumvention by the NRC ban bill.

"This is a direct response to the NRC banned bait and feed ban because of chronic wasting disease," said Trotter.

Founded in 1937, Michigan Untied Conservation Clubs' mission is to unite residents to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan's natural resources and outdoor heritage, according to its website.

Trotter said the bill lacks clear parameters on the type of food or bait allowed, as the time of year can be used, as well as other details. She also said the bill could set a precedent on the part of the legislature for wildlife management issues, which are currently the responsibility of the NRC.

"We do not think it should be a decision of the legislature," she said.

Senator Curtis VanderWall, R-Ludington, is the sponsor of the bill. He stated that he had conducted his own research on chronic wasting, and concluded that he did not agree with the reasons why the NRC had banned this ban.

"It's hypothetical that (the MDC) can be transmitted through baits," VanderWall said.

He said he regularly hears farmers and hunters from his community talking about the issue and said he hoped Michigan has a strong hunting heritage.

VanderWall said that he knew the issue was controversial, but that his motivation was to make sure that deer health was heard, hunting traditions and farmers' business. He said he believed the bait ban could further reduce Michigan hunters, leading an overcrowded herd.

"What's the difference with a deer if there's an apple under an apple tree or an apple under a maple?" he said.

To learn more about the bill and track its progress, check out its page on the Michigan legislature's website at bit.ly/2U8XhEE.

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Contact Education Journalist Jeremy Ervin at (810) 989-6276 or at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ ErvinJeremy.

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