Michigan Announces Deer and Elk Baiting Ban

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In the wake of the announcement that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed in a privately owned white-tailed deer in Kent County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has immediately implemented provisions of the state's Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD.

Among the provisions is an immediate ban on all baiting and feeding of deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula. This ban also will affect bear baiting activity.

Provisions of the baiting ban are:

  • * All grains, minerals, salt, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other food materials, whether natural or manufactured, which may lure, entice or attract deer are prohibited.
  • * Food plots are not subject to the ban.
  • * Foods found scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting practices, foods available to deer through normal agricultural practices of livestock feeding if the area is occupied by livestock actively consuming the feed on a daily basis, or standing farm crops under normal agricultural practices are not subject to the ban.
  • * Baiting is defined in the Wildlife Order as placing, depositing, tending, distributing, or scattering bait to aid in the taking of a deer.
  • * All counties in the entire Lower Peninsula are subject to the baiting ban.
  • * The Upper Peninsula is not included in the ban.

Current bear baiting regulations prohibit the use of any materials that lure, entice, or attract deer or elk where it is unlawful to bait or feed deer or elk. As a result of the deer and elk baiting and feeding ban, no bear baiting with food materials other than meats, meat products, fish, fish products, or bakery products will be allowed in the Lower Peninsula at any time.

DNR conservation officers have increased surveillance and enforcement efforts on baiting. Baiting and feeding unnaturally congregate deer into close contact, thus increasing the transmission of contagious diseases. Bait and feed sites increase the likelihood that those areas will become contaminated with the feces of infected animals, making them a source of infection for years to come.

DNR officials remind citizens that, to date, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans, nor has there been verified evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. Most cases of the disease have been in western states, but in the past several years, it has spread to Midwestern and eastern states. Infected animals display abnormal behaviors, loss of bodily functions and a progressive weight loss. Current evidence suggests that the disease is transmitted through infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions). Prions are normal cell proteins whose shape has been transformed, causing CWD. The disease is transmitted by exposure to saliva of infected animals. Susceptible animals also can acquire CWD by eating feces from an infected animal, or soil contaminated by them. Once contaminated, soil can remain a source of infection for many years, making CWD a particularly difficult disease to manage.

More information about CWD is available on the state of Michigan's Emerging Diseases Web site at www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease.