(KXNET) — A bill allowing baiting for deer and other big game has passed in the House.

House Bill 1151 would restrict North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s authority to prohibit big game baiting on private land. And on Tuesday, it passed in the House of Representatives with 76 yeas and 18 nays.

“I’ve been really pleased with the input and the support that we’ve had,” said District Representative Paul Thomas. “We’ve heard from North Dakota sportsmen and landowners who have reached out to other legislators to let them know how much this bill means to them, and how much being able to use bait in their hunting is very important to people.”

Representative Thomas, who introduced the bill, is hopeful it will pass in the Senate as well.

“It really affects a lot of hunters,” explained Representative Thomas, “but especially those hunters that bow hunt. Or for those agencies, hunters, or people that are helping people with disabilities, or even really young hunters who should get the opportunity to see wildlife while they’re sitting out in a deer stand or in a tree stand.”

But not everyone is in support of the bill passing. North Dakota Game and Fish maintains the stance that allowing baiting statewide could increase the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

“From the department’s standpoint, we’re concerned about it because it speeds up how fast diseases can be transmitted,” stated ND Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson. “With more animals feeding off of the same feed, there’s more opportunity to exchange bodily fluids. Then there’s also more opportunity for animals to come into direct contact with each other.”

Dr. Bahnson says in the western part of the state baiting is prohibited, and it is still permitted in the eastern part. But legalizing baiting statewide could be detrimental to the health of the animals.

“According to our management plan,” Dr. Bahnson continued, “in hunting units that fall within 25 miles of a confirmed CWD detection, baiting restriction goes into place. That’s simply because when we know that there’s a disease threat there that’s established, we can’t justify it against hunters or behaviors that are going to artificially exasperate that disease threat.”

This debate is also happening nationally as well. According to Outdoor Ever, out of the 50 states, 28 of them do not allow baiting for big game.

Representative Thomas says his co-sponsors in the Senate are as equally passionate as he is to see the bill pass.