Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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MI: Bill: Hike fines for illegal baiting

Lansing – Michigan hunters could face more stringent fines for
baiting violations under pending legislation in the state House of
Representatives.

State Rep. Rick Olson, R-Saline, recently introduced House Bill
4927, which would ratchet up all illegal baiting fines
significantly, and impose license revocation for repeat offenses.
Olson said the bill is designed to protect livestock in northeast
Michigan’s bovine tuberculosis zone, where baiting remains illegal,
and encourage hunters to comply with restrictions on the amount and
placement of bait in other areas.

“In these small areas where we still have the baiting ban in place
and in other areas, it will really discourage the bad actors who
are going outside those regulations,” Olson said. “Hopefully (the
fines) won’t be the cost of doing business, and people will
actually stop doing what they are not supposed to do.”

Current baiting fines range from $50 to $500, and up to 90 days in
jail, with the severity of the punishment determined by each
individual court. HB 4927 would maintain the same potential jail
time, but would increase monetary fines to up to $500 for a first
offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $2,000 for
third and subsequent offenses.

The bill also would impose license revocation for a second offense
that would run through the year of the offense and the two
following years. A third offense would result in a lost license for
that year, and three succeeding years.

The bill currently is in the House Natural Resources, Tourism and
Outdoor Recreation Committee. It could move to the House floor by
the end of the year, Olson said.

Amy Trotter, resource policy manager for Michigan United
Conservation Clubs, said the need for increased baiting fines was
repeatedly discussed during the debate on baiting during the past
year. The license revocation aspect has proved to be a successful
deterrent for other illegal activities, like snagging, she
said.

“The $50 fine wasn’t enough to stop people from baiting … it
wasn’t seen as severe enough,” Trotter said. “We support it. It was
really something the (DNR) and the (Natural Resources Committee)
committed to doing when they lifted the ban.”

Dean Molnar, assistant chief of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division,
said the punishments outlined in the bill have proved successful in
preventing illegal snagging, and he believes the license revocation
aspect is key.

“Basically, what (HB 4927) is, is it mirrors exactly what the
penalties are for snagging fish. It’s monetary fines the first time
… then the fines go up and it’s mandatory license revocation,”
Molnar said. “I just know from experience our efforts with snagging
have been enhanced … because people don’t want to lose their
fishing privileges, and people don’t want to lose their hunting
license.”

Molnar said reports of baiting violations spiked significantly in
2008, when the DNR halted baiting in response to a single case of
chronic wasting disease found in a captive deer in Kent County.
Those reports tapered off in 2009 and decreased slightly last
year.

Molnar said he believes the legislation would encourage hunters to
keep their bait to two gallons, spread over a 10-square-foot area,
as current regulations allow.

“About 30 percent of the arrests the department makes as far as
wildlife goes are somehow related to baiting violations,” Molnar
said. “I do think that for some of our sportsmen out there that are
putting extra out, this will be a deterrent.”

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