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Need to not overreact to CWD in deer

EDITOR:

When managing Michigan’s deer population, we need to look at the big picture, not just one issue such as chronic wasting disease. Did you know there are 1.75 million deer in Michigan and that 53,464 died in vehicle accidents last year? An additional 40,000 deer starved to death in the U.P.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as of October 18, 2019, 6,032 deer have been tested for CWD and only 17 tested positive. And these deer did not die from CWD. They were either killed by hunters or from car-deer accidents. They only tested positive after they died from causes other than CWD.

Why, then, is CWD the priority and not starvation or car-deer accidents?

All these numbers will surely go up in the coming years as hunters decline deer numbers increase.

Michigan had as many as 1.2 million hunters in the 1970s, ’80s and into the ’90s. But by 2018, less than 675,000 people purchased a hunting license.

Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources highlighted a 2018 study by Michigan State University that found hunting and fishing annually generates $11.2 billion in the state. Hunting and fishing fees account for more than 90% of the state agency’s $42 million wildlife conservation budget.

Eichinger also noted, Hunting is a key tool for “maintaining balanced, healthy populations,” and managing our wildlife. Why then are we passing laws that will reduce the number of people who want to hunt.

While limiting or eliminating baiting in Michigan may reduce the number of deer contracting CWD, it is only one part of managing our deer herd. Banning baiting could even increase the number of deer found with CWD. Banning baiting surely will decrease the number of hunters. This in turn will increase the deer population, which will in turn increase the number of car-deer accidents, the number of deer starving to death and maybe even increase the number of deer contracting CWD.

Baiting is nothing new. For centuries, hunters have hunted where deer come to feed off apples that have fallen off a tree. How is moving those apples from beneath an apple tree to a site where a hunter is located any different?

Let’s look at the big picture when managing our deer herd and not not focus on one aspect like CWD. Support HB 4687, which will allow limited baiting as a means to control an overall healthy deer population in the state of Michigan.

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