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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Marty Kovarik
Washington, D.C. — For the second time in recent years the practice of hunting black bear over bait could come under attack in Michigan. State voters defeated a proposed baiting ban in 1996.
This time however, the decision might not be up to just state residents. U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., plans to introduce legislation this year to ban the practice on federal lands. Federal forests in the northern two-thirds of the state make up a large percentage of Michigan’s prime bear country.
Moran is backed by the Humane Society of the United States and supported by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
“This is just wrong,” Moran said. “It’s comparable to shooting fish in a barrel. I just don’t know what kind of sport that is. It’s just a slaughter.”
Ventura was even more animated in his opposition to baiting. “Going out there and putting jelly doughnuts down and Yogi comes up and sits there and thinks he’s found the mother lode five days in a row — and then you back-shoot him from a tree? That ain’t sport, that’s assassination,” he said.
However, many hunters and wildlife managers in Michigan believe bear baiting is being grossly misrepresented.
“They’re not giving the bear much credit,” said Mike Koss, a wildlife biologist at the Michigan DNR’s Gwinn office. “If baiting is truly like shooting fish in a barrel, how do they explain the fact that we have so many bears in Michigan, not to mention a good population of older age class animals?”
Troy Huff, president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, agrees.
“They are misrepresenting this,” he said. “Bait hunters spend a tremendous number of hours in the woods. It’s not easy at all.”
If passed, the legislation would affect almost 3 million acres of federal land in Michigan alone in the Ottawa, Hiawatha and Huron-Manistee national forests. There is concern among hunters and wildlife managers that a baiting ban would make it difficult to manage the black bear population on federal lands.
According to Koss, the bulk of bears harvested in Michigan, approximately 75 to 80 percent, are taken over bait. A ban could make it difficult to get hunters on federal lands, resulting in an increase in bear problems and nuisance complaints. It also may concentrate hunters on non-federal lands.
According to Huff, a ban on bear baiting would make it much more difficult to manage the bear population.
“It’s not like out west. We have very dense forests up here and really don’t have the ability to spot bears at long distances,” he said.
Koss agrees. “In the heavy cover of September it’s hard to run into a bear up here,” he said.
Richard Smith, author of “Understanding Michigan Black Bear,” said baiting is an excellent management tool. Baiting not only allows bear hunters to be selective, it allows them to make an accurate shot on the animal.
“Baiting allows hunters to identify sows with cubs, and to avoid them and select a male,” Smith said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to size and sex a bear and make a humane kill.”
Smith is concerned that if baiting is outlawed, hunting success would drop so dramatically that the current permit system would have to be removed. More hunters in the woods, who do not have the opportunity to study the bear over bait, could possibly increase the unintentional harvest of sows and cubs.
According to Koss, if there were a baiting ban on federal land it would impact hunter success and could increase the number of permits offered to hunters.
Wayne Pacelle, vice president and lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States, discounts these arguments.
“They have thick forests and lush vegetation in Washington and Oregon and other states that have long banned bear baiting,” he said. “It’s a silly excuse. Well-fed bears reproduce more. By putting tens of thousands of pounds of food in the woods, you contribute to the population, which runs against the idea that bear baiting somehow meets some management imperative.”
Hunters across the state are taking seriously this latest assault on bear baiting. Many believe it’s not only about baiting bears, but about hunting in general.
“The Humane Society is involved,” Smith said. “Look at the track record of that organization. They are opposed to all bear hunting and this is just one step to further their agenda.”
Huff also says the push is simply an attempt to pass another anti-hunting bill.
According to Huff, the MBHA has a “war chest” of money set aside to be used to fight anti-hunting measures. If needed, this money is available to help fight this legislation.
Because federal officials defer to states on wildlife management, bear baiting is legal on federal land in nine states. A House subcommittee defeated a proposed bear baiting ban last year.
“I try not to tell rural areas how to make regulations and laws,” said Moran, who sponsored the legislation last year. “This just seemed like one area that was too extreme.”
Huff encourages hunters to contact their representatives.
“First and foremost, this is the federal government trying to mandate how we manage our wildlife,” he said. “State wildlife managers have done a fantastic job. We have a very healthy bear population and state officials should continue (to manage the bear population).”
Associated Press contributed to this story.

Here is a link to michigan outdoor news website with more information about this please go read it.;act=ST;f=2;t=964


61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Bear baiting ban may be sought on federal l

I do know how to spell the word MICHIGAN For some reason it will not allow the letter N at the end of the word michigan in the topic line. :x

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