Deer Bait Bill Passed by Legislature

By: Wendy Suares Email
By: Wendy Suares Email

It's a long-standing controversy among hunters and lawmakers.
Legal or not, House Wildlife Committee chairman Eric Robinson of Quitman said many hunters are already doing it. They use corn and other bait to attract deer, then shoot them.

"I want a level playing field for all our hunters out there," Robinson said.

Robinson has tried for 15 years to legalize deer baiting in Mississippi. This year, a compromise with the Senate gives the 5 member wildlife commission the authority to decide.

"In this bill we give them a tool to get control over the feeding of game animals. That's very important to the state of Mississippi," said Sen. Lynn Posey of Union Church.

But a last ditch effort by Sen. Walter Michel of Jackson urged fellow lawmakers to reconsider the bill. He says deer baiting would dumb down the sport of hunting and hurt wildlife.

"I've checked with several biologists. Everybody I've talked to opposes this. The deer coordinator for the state of Mississippi opposes this, then I'm totally against the idea of giving three people the right to make this legal," said Michel.

The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Haley Barbour. It's unclear whether the wildlife commission will in fact give the green-light to deer baiting.

"I think they will do it in part of the state just to see what the public reaction is, how it affects other wildlife," Robinson said.

"If they listen to the biologists that are on staff at the wildlife agency, then they certainly won't even bring the issue up," said Michel.

There has been no official word yet on the governor's opinion on the deer bating issue. But opponents are hopeful he will veto the legislation.

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