(KXNET) — North Dakota Game and Fish restricts baiting in hunting units if they fall within 25 miles of a disease detection zone in North Dakota.
But some sportsmen are taking another shot against that rule in House Bill 1151, which has been introduced by legislators.
Many things impact North Dakota’s decreased deer population. Harsh winters, drivers, and now a chronic wasting disease.
Last year, Game and Fish gave out 8,000 fewer licenses than they did in 2021, and they locked down on baiting laws trying to control the downward population trend.
But sportsmen feel baiting bans would keep sporting opportunities from people with physical disabilities and from youth.
“Just because you go and you have a feeder going, or you put some food on the ground, doesn’t mean that the deer are just going to run in and you shoot a deer, and you’re done. It doesn’t work that way. In most years my kids have gone multiple years without shooting a deer. But the one thing it does do is, it does increase the chances. And it increases the opportunity. And with that, it keeps their interest level up. And it keeps them in the field,” said Randy Schepp, a Velva resident.
But to North Dakota Game and Fish, it’s much more serious than that.
The main concern right now is the chronic waste disease.
Kacee Anderson with Game and Fish says baiting brings large groups of deer into contact with each other, which raises the possibility of transmitting diseases.
“Right now CWD in the state is at a very low prevalence. Which is where we want to keep it. The idea is how do you manage that to maintain a low prevalence so it isn’t putting extra above and beyond what’s already going on in North Dakota,” said Casey Anderson, the wildlife division chief for North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Game and Fish feels they have an obligation to hunters to create hunting opportunities for the future.
“It’s a change in your philosophies or your traditions or things like that. But at the game in fish were looking beyond that were looking to how do we manage a disease that has the potential to affect our overall opportunity for dear hunting into the future,” said Anderson.
The house energy and natural resources committee hasn’t taken any immediate action for or against the bill.
Anderson says he doesn’t think a final ruling on the bill will be made until the end of the legislative session.
North Dakota Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Charlie Bahson also spoke of the 80 to 90 percent infection rate in mule deer in Saskatchewan, where baiting is allowed, to show North Dakota that baiting can cause serious problems in our deer population.