Objection raised to feed, bait ban

Correspondent

Madison The Wisconsin DNR’s ban on deer baiting and feeding flew
like a crippled duck over legislative committees in early July and
may soon get the final coup de grace from the Joint Committee on
Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

The ban did not get approval of the Assembly and Senate natural
resources committees and now goes to the joint committee.

The Natural Resources Board at its June meeting declined to make
changes (on a 4-3 vote) requested by the legislative committees on
baiting and feeding, although it did make modifications restricting
animal parts in any food placed out as bait and not allowing DNR
sharpshooters to shoot deer from airplanes in CWD eradication
zones.

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee voted 7-4 last week to
object to the DNR baiting and feeding restrictions. That objection
was forwarded to the JCRAR.

Rep. Scott Gunderson (R-Union Grove), who voted against the ban,
told the committee he would draft a bill to be introduced to the
Legislature before this fall that will contain restrictions on
feeding, and perhaps on baiting.

“I will draft a bill to limit feeding and am not sure right now
about whether it will include baiting,” Gunderson said. “It will
have some restrictions, such as restricting the amount of feed to
two gallons and allowing it no farther away than 100 yards from a
residence and not close to highways with a 45 mile per hour or more
speed limit.”

The Assembly committee’s discussion began after members asked
Tom Hauge, DNR director of wildlife management, if the agency
wanted to make any last-minute changes before the vote. Hauge said
the DNR would stay with its decision.

Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford) said the objection was made “on
the grounds that it was arbitrary and capricious, and imposes an
undue hardship.”

Discussion included heated comments on both sides of the issue.
Committee members wanted to be sure that changes the board did
approve banning any bait with animal parts in it were still intact,
but DNR legal counsel indicated the current law limits the type of
bait by preventing honey, bones, fish, meat, solid animal fat, or
parts of animal carcasses or in excess of 10 gallons of bait or
liquid scent.

The committee said if its objection holds, baiting restrictions
will revert to those prior to when CWD appeared in Wisconsin, which
limits bait to 10 gallons.

Rep. Barbara Gronemus (D-Whitehall) asked the DNR if it could
enforce the existing 10-gallon rule.

Hauge said “gross” violations are easiest to enforce.

“I’m going to tell people that if they know people who are
dumping large amounts of feed they should call the DNR and turn
them in. I’m sick of this stuff,” Gronemus said.

Gunderson said he was disheartened that the DNR wouldn’t accept
a compromise.

“I have a hard time understanding why you wouldn’t go along with
this compromise knowing that it’s possible you’ll go back to the
rules that were in place before CWD,” Gunderson said. “You can say
it’s the (committee) who voted (to allow feeding), but I think the
department did it.”

Gunderson said he thinks the state may have overreacted to CWD.
He said he previously sided with the DNR, and does not like
baiting, but voted against the rule with mixed emotions.

Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud (R-Eastman), committee chairman, cautioned
that if the committee objected, it’s likely the state will go into
the hunting season with a 10-gallon bait limit and no limits on
feeding. The DNR’s ability to regulate feeding expires in June,
2004.

Rep. Mark Pettis (R-Hertel) said he was disappointed with the
DNR. “The DNR is quite disingenuous in banning feeding It had the
opportunity to do something and instead it put the onus on the
committee,” he said.

Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) said the responsibility lies
with the committee, and it ought to err on the side of caution and
allow the rule to go into place and then debate Gunderson’s
proposed bill in the Legislature.

“This is too serious of an issue on which to make a mistake,”
Ott said. “I have to trust the experts, and Wisconsin agriculture
supports this rule. I think the right answer is for the committee
to not object to this rule.”

Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison) said the consequences of the
committee vote could be dire. “Allowing baiting and feeding is
playing with fire,” he said.

Voting no to the objection (supporting the DNR’s proposed
restrictions on baiting and feeding) were Johnsrud, Ott, Black, and
Miller.

Following the vote, Hauge said it appears the state would be
going back to the 10-gallon bait limit, with no restriction on
feeding.

“With all due respect to citizens who think we’re being
overzealous, CWD is a disease that is very difficult to deal with,
and this is a risk reduction measure that is supported by science,”
he said. “At this time the landowners and citizens are the last
line of defense, and their voluntary actions will be necessary. We
encourage them to enforce their own risk reduction and not
congregate animals by baiting and feeding.”

The Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources
followed suit on July 10, voting 3-2 along party lines to object to
the deer baiting and feeding ban, and sending the rule to the
JCRAR. The Senate committed is chaired by Sen. Neal Kedzie
(R-Elkhorn).

The JCRAR now has 30 days to hold a hearing. That committee can
take no action, or vote not to uphold the Assembly and Senate
objections. In that case the DNR can proceed with its rule. The
JCRAR also could request modifications from the DNR.

Or the JCRAR could simply object. That would prevent the DNR
from making any rule. The JCRAR would then draft a bill that would
return to the legislative natural resources committees.

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