Image by Ken Bosma under Creative Commons license.
The state has had a hard time enforcing animal feeding and baiting bans in order to control for disease. So now officials have decided to loosen restrictions, specifically at times when an animal is discovered to have Chronic Wasting Disease. The hope is, when there is a ban, more people would comply.
Wildlife officials say the stakes are pretty high. If Chronic Wasting Disease establishes in Michigan’s wild deer herd, the herd would really take a hit. It’s happened in Wisconsin.
It’s also clear, according to the state’s wildlife veterinarian, that baiting and feeding spreads disease. But in 2008, when a deer on a private ranch in Kent County tested positive, the state had a hard time getting Michiganders to comply with a baiting ban that spanned the entire Lower Peninsula.
“Many hunters enjoy using bait and feel that it helps them harvest a deer, and so, like many issues, you compromise,” says Wildlife Veterinarian Steve Schmitt.
Instead of a peninsula-wide ban, if an animal tests positive the state might only ban baiting in counties that somehow fall within a 10-mile radius.
Schmitt says this is the first time the state has changed its Chronic Wasting Disease management plan in a decade.
“And we’ve learned a lot about the biology of the disease, and the social science of what the public is willing to do in disease management,” he says.