House Bill 1151, baiting for deer

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:37 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2023 at 4:39 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - At the start of the week, there were eighteen pieces of legislation introduced regarding the North Dakota Game and Fish. One will experience its first hearing Friday inside the Coteau room. As News Director J.R. Havens tells us, House Bill 1151 may be one of the most heated debates at the session this year.

The first discovery of Chronic Waste Disease in the state occurred in 2009 in unit 3F2 in 2009 according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. It’s been studied since 2002. Game and Fish Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson says CWD, as it’s more commonly known, is spread when deer congregate. He says CWD is spread through bodily fluids and transmitted directly between animals and indirectly through contaminated feed and environments, which speeds up the transmission and creates more risk of transmission. So, if Game and Fish finds CWD in a unit that falls within 25 miles of that detection hunters can no longer bait in that area. Right now, 20 of the state’s 38 deer hunting units don’t allow baiting.

“I’m neutral and it really does not affect me. I am a landowner I am able to put in food plots. But there are a lot of people who are not like me. I worry about some of these people losing that opportunity and even though they can continue to hunt I wonder how many of those kids or those adults will quit hunting. And in our world today where we need more hunters because there is no science. Is it worth taking a chance just because of the ifs and buts that it might spread, or we think it spreads faster with baiting if we take that chance to take it away from them? Maybe give it more time. I’m all for Game and Fish doing all their research trying to find a cure but if we’re not having the science and you are looking at from 1960 to now so you are looking 40 years you would think that if there was an actual study that was done that shows baiting spreads it, even though we may think it does, but why isn’t there that study done?” said John Arman.

“I worry about some of these people losing that opportunity and even though they can continue to hunt I wonder how many of those kids or those adults will quit hunting,” said John Arman.

Arman would like to see more time and research done on CWD in North Dakota. Doctor Charlie Bahnson is a Wildlife Veterinarian for North Dakota Game and Fish. He says there’s no straightforward answer on how many deer have died since 2009 of CWD but Game and Fish is confident that there is science saying deer do die from it and with it.

“It’s in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 positive cases in the state but we only test probably 10% of the licenses that come out of those units. So, for every positive that we know about there are other animals out there. How many have you seen killed by a mountain lion? None of those mortalities are seen yet we are confident that happens and so based off of what we know when we study a deer in a controlled situation, we know that happens. For better or worse ND is not the only state that is dealing with this. There have been states that have done collared research. When a deer dies you can follow up and absolutely there are cases where those deer die of CWD. I have no doubt that if we collared a bunch, we could document that same thing, but we can’t wait for that to happen. We have to take what we know and try to mitigate the risk as best as possible,” said Bahnson.

Doctor Bahnson says at this time there aren’t any plans to collar deer in North Dakota, but the department spends about $250,000 a year on CWD.

On a larger scale, Senator John Hoeven’s legislation to authorize funding for both the research and management of chronic wasting disease was approved by Congress at the end of last year. He’s now working to implement and fund the legislation through the regular appropriations process.