Stamas introduces bill to effectively end Michigan’s deer baiting ban

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Thursday introduced legislation to improve the state’s efforts to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Michigan.

“I believe ending the baiting ban is an important first step in reducing the size of Michigan’s deer herd, as the size of the herd is contributing to the spread of diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine TB,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Bovine TB is persistent in wild deer and continues to threaten the livelihoods of area dairy and cattle farmers in northeast Michigan.

“We’ve spent over $150 million since 1998 on bovine TB and still haven’t solved the problem. It’s disappointing and upsetting that state officials continue to pursue the same strategy that has failed to protect Michigan cattle farmers and failed to eliminate bovine TB in our state.”

Senate Bill 800 would reduce the penalty for violating the ban on baiting to $1.

Stamas introduced the bill following the recent announcement that bovine TB was confirmed in a medium-sized beef herd in northeast Michigan. Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. The herd is the 77th cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB in Michigan since 1998.

CWD is a contagious, neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The fatal disease was first discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in 2015. Over 80,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for CWD, and it has been confirmed in 185 deer. There is no cure, and an infected deer can live with CWD for years and spread it through contact with other animals.

“Last year we voted to end the baiting ban for the rifle deer hunting season, but the governor vetoed the legislation,” Stamas said. “If we cannot end the baiting ban, then we should take steps to make it obsolete. This is a serious issue, and the status quo isn’t working. I stand ready to work with anyone to identify a better solution to finally end these diseases in our state.”

SB 800 has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.