Baiting is now prohibited across the Lower Peninsula and in a 660-square-mile area of the Upper Peninsula. Supporters of repealing the prohibition believe that prohibiting deer baiting and feeding is an overreach that harms the state's hunting business and does little to combat chronic wasting illness.
In 2006, Michigan passed a law banning deer baiting - the act of using food as bait to attract wild deer so that hunters can shoot them. The law was meant to protect Michigan's more than one million deer from becoming diseased by consuming baits containing corn or other crops grown for human consumption. However, some farmers complain that the law prevents them from using certain methods to control weeds around their fields.
Deer baiting has been used in Michigan for hundreds of years. Historical accounts describe Indians using food such as corn on the ground or in hay piles to attract deer into shooting ranges. As farming became widespread in Michigan, deer baiting also grew popular as a method of controlling unwanted vegetation. In fact, according to research done at Michigan State University, nearly half of all male white-tailed deer in the state were estimated to have consumed corn in some form between 1999 and 2004.
The practice continues today among some rural landowners who say it helps keep deer populations down without using lethal controls. However, deer baiting is illegal under Michigan law.
Baiting deer is prohibited in Michigan's lower peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula. According to the DNR, it is critical for hunters to understand why this is the law: "Bait is marketed all across the lower peninsula, but utilizing it is against the law."
The reason baiting deer is illegal in Michigan is because of concerns about public safety and damage to land and property. If you decide to use bait on your own property, make sure to post warning signs indicating that it is poison oak/poison ivy territory and that people should not eat any items they find there.
It is important for people to understand their state's laws before hunting. In addition to checking with local game officials, hunters should review legislation changes as they become available on the DNR website.
Baiting and feeding are prohibited in the Lower Peninsula and the main CWD surveillance region in the Upper Peninsula. The bait must be applied directly to the ground. Feeding containers should be buried at least 2 feet deep and removed at the end of the hunting season.
The only exception is when hunters use corn as bait -- which is allowed if it's for deer management purposes only. Deer management programs provide food for young cervids or control population size by killing older animals. The corn needs to be placed within a designated zone and cannot be placed closer than 1 mile to any residence. Also, hunters can apply corn anywhere on private land if they have written permission from the landowner.
In addition to baiting, feeding occurs when hunters spread meat or dairy products out on high-value habitat such as fruit trees, brushy fields, and overgrown timberlands. This practice creates valuable food sources that help keep deer populations healthy and avoid overhunting of certain species. However, spreading meat is not recommended during closed seasons or during periods when these areas are being managed for biodiversity conservation purposes.
Deer are sensitive to anthropogenic changes in their environment and will move toward foods that contain more sugar and less fiber.
Baiting is now prohibited in the majority of Michigan, and violators risk penalties, up to 90 days in prison, and the loss of their hunting license. Deer baiting involves planting food items, such as corn or other vegetables, that attract deer into a trap where they are then shot by hunters.
Deer baiting was popular among farmers who wanted to reduce the number of animals on their land that were competing with crops for water and nutrients. The practice also provided an economic advantage over traditional hunting methods because it allowed landowners to harvest more abundant prey populations without violating hunting laws. However, many critics argue that deer baiting is inhumane because it deprives injured or sick animals of necessary food and care. Others claim that planting crops specifically for deer causes environmental damage since these plants don't grow this way in nature and require significant resources to maintain.
The state legislature first banned deer baiting in 1891. Since then, several other prohibitions have been added to the law, most recently in 2008 when lawmakers passed legislation that effectively outlawed the practice across most of the state.
Penalties vary depending on what part of the country you're in. For example, in West Virginia there are no limits on how many deer you can bait, nor do you need a permit to do so.
Baiting is only permitted on owned or leased land. Baiting is still prohibited on WMAs, national forest areas, and other public properties. The legislation is silent on what may be used as bait. Physicians suggest that those who engage in this activity wear protective clothing including gloves and eye protection.
Squirrels are popular prey animals with hunters because of their small size and high meat-to-bone ratio. Since they don't run very fast and are easy to spot when you approach them on foot, they make excellent targets for hunters trying to avoid injuring larger animals. Squirrels are also useful as a food source for people who live in rural areas because they can be easily harvested from natural habitats where they cause no harm to other plants. However, not all squirrels are treated the same by hunters - black bears are often much more desirable prey because they are harder to find and have more fat content under their skin. But compared to rabbits, squirrels are easier to kill and less likely to put up a fight.
In most states, it is legal to hunt squirrels if you have a license and permit requirements. Some counties and municipalities may have additional regulations regarding trapping or killing wildlife. It's important to check local laws before engaging in any form of hunting.
It is illegal to shoot into or enter "a baited area" for the sake of hunting. A "baited area" is described as a 250-yard radius surrounding the bait location. Ten days after all bait has been removed, "a baited region" will no longer be deemed baited. It is then legal to shoot within this zone.
In other words, if you put out food for deer, it's illegal to continue shooting at them once the food is gone. Doing so would be considered trespassing and could result in a fine or jail time.
However, if they're already inside the zone when the food runs out, then you have an opportunity to shoot at them.
This rule applies to black bears in Tennessee too. If you set out food for bear, don't shoot at them when it's time to remove the trap. Give them a chance to leave on their own.
If you do shoot at a bear inside the baiting zone, you need to make sure that you aren't injuring someone else. In that case, you would need to notify police and seek medical attention for your victim.
The good news is that there are no restrictions on how far you can hunt from home. It can be as close as you want to be without being in someone else's property rights.