MINOT, N.D. — Deer baiting, while not making a lot of headlines, has become one of the most contentious issues at the legislative session in Bismarck. House Bill 1151 , which would remove from the North Dakota Game & Fish Department the ability to regulate deer baiting as a way to control the spread of chronic wasting disease, saw over 200 people testify for and against it during a hearing before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Now the bill is being amended to try and find some common ground, but the amendments so far aren’t doing much to improve the bill.
There are two fundamental ways of looking at deer baiting. One is the scientific angle, the other is ethical.
The Game & Fish Department says they’re motivated by science. Chronic wasting disease, among other potential maladies that baiting operations can spread, is a threat not just to wildlife populations but to animal agriculture. They use regulations on baiting, including bans, to control that threat.
The department’s critics say that’s hogwash. That CWD isn’t nearly the threat Game & Fish officials say it is. They say Game & Fish is motivated by an ethical opposition to baiting.