Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries issued an interim order placing an immediate ban on baiting and feeding on Aug. 26, after a captive deer from a privately owned facility tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Humphries' order, as prescribed by the state's CWD emergency response plan adopted in 2002, would have expired Feb. 26, 2009, but the NRC action removes the expiration date and makes the ban permanent.
Additionally, the NRC approved orders that require hunters who take a deer in the nine townships that comprise the CWD Surveillance Zone in northern Kent County to come to a DNR deer check station. The orders also regulate the movement of carcasses from the Surveillance Zone and give replacement kill tags to any hunter who presents a deer at a check station that shows signs of CWD.
The NRC action is just the latest effort in a campaign designed to prevent the spread of CWD, an always fatal neurological disease of deer, elk and moose.
Since Sept. 1, DNR conservation officers have issued 102 tickets for illegal deer and elk baiting in the Lower Peninsula.
"There has been talk that we weren't going to be able to enforce this baiting ban in the Lower Peninsula, but the number of tickets we have issued so far shows that we are very serious about enforcement of the ban," said Humphries. "Our primary goal is to protect the health of our wild white-tailed deer and elk populations. Stopping CWD from becoming established in our wild deer and elk is our top priority."
"We appreciate the hunters who have abided by the ban and are no longer baiting," Humphries added. "Protecting the resource --white-tailed deer and elk -- should be everyone's priority."
The DNR's Law Enforcement Division reported that in a period from Sept. 22 to Oct.5, 34.6 percent of the calls to the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline concerned illegal baiting. Last year during a similar time frame, baiting complaints made up only 11.3 percent of the RAP hotline calls. While there was no baiting and feeding ban in 2007, the complaints last year would have related to over-baiting or baiting in the Bovine Tuberculosis zone in northeast Lower Michigan. "We are encouraged that sportsmen and women are taking part in this initiative," Humphries said. "We appreciate them taking the health of our deer herd as seriously as we do."
Since the CWD-positive deer was discovered, the DNR has tested 1,095 deer statewide; of those, 964 tested negative with the remaining 131 tests are pending.
Written By: Mike Girolami, President of WorkWear1, www.workwear1.com, a Local Distributor of Carhartt Clothing, Redford MI