The Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, was at the Michigan State Capitol this past week to support legislation that would permit deer and elk baiting in areas where it has been prohibited by law.
The long-time rocker and former Michigan resident had plenty to say about rules to minimize the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) being imposed on Michigan hunters.
From “Uncle Ted’s” perspective, hunters should be able to hunt “their deer” on their land in any manner they see fit.
“The king doesn’t own the deer,” he said. “We the people own the deer.” If that were true, Nugent would be correct in his approach to baiting, but a number of Supreme Court rulings contradict Ted’s concept of ownership.
Like it or not, this public trust doctrine of wildlife has been the nucleus of today’s successful model of wildlife management. And, Ted doesn’t like it.
Nugent went on to exclaim that baiting prohibition would “chase hunting families out of the sport for absolutely no reason.”
No doubt, some deer hunters will not hunt because of baiting bans, but to say it would be for no reason is more than a stretch, although what he probably meant was that there was no “good” reason. Good or not is irrelevant.
It’s no secret that hunting participation is in decline nationwide and has been for many years.
However, the aging hunting fraternity is retiring naturally, as it has been forever.
The challenge for wildlife managers/hunters is to bring the younger generation into the fold in numbers large enough to continue funding efforts derived from license fees.
When baiting was widely permitted in Michigan, hunting numbers had already been in decline for decades. Allowing baiting, therefore, will not change any of this.
What it will do, however, would be to concentrate deer “beyond their normal movement patterns [increasing] the likelihood of disease transmission,” said Ed Golder, DNR spokesperson.
In a statement Tuesday, he said research shows that baiting and feeding increases the likelihood of disease transmission, citing a list of references on the department’s website.
The department also believes the authority to ban baiting and feeding should remain with the Natural Resources Commission.
When one considers all the open NRC meetings, where public comments were welcomed and encouraged over the years, none of this is news — except maybe Ted Nugent’s opinions.
He may be correct in that deer will still get the dreaded CWD, but ignoring the conclusions of wildlife biologists is off target.
Nobody ever said we are on the path to end the spread of CWD, but fact-based science indicates we can minimize it.
And, for now that’s the best we can do.