LANSING (MIRS News) – Hunters could drop up to five gallons of apples, carrots or any other deer bait during hunting season, despite a Natural Resources Commission (NRC) ruling to the contrary, under legislation the House passed, 57-49 today.

Rep. Michele Hoitenga’s (R-Manton) HB 4687 comes on the heels of an NRC ruling that bans bait piles through the Lower Peninsula this deer hunting season for the first time as a way to control the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. Firearm deer hunting season kicks off a week from Friday.

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“Every once in a while, the bureaucrats don’t make the right decision and my role as a an elected official to correct a wrong,” said Hoitenga, adding that outside of no-fault auto insurance reform, this the top issue for her Northern Michigan constituents.

The bill also prohibits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from refusing a hunting permit from someone in any area of this state in which deer have tested positive for chronic wasting diseases.

The House passed the measure, 57-49, but not before Rep. Gary Howell (R-North Branch) argued the bill was an affront to voter-passed Proposal G of 1996, which charges the NRC with the power to make scientific decisions on the taking of deer and other game animals.

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As a hunter, Howell said doesn’t have strong feelings about baiting or not baiting, but he does have strong feelings about “being on the verge violating the spirit of this provision.”

“It is better to have an unbiased body relying on scientific evidence than demagoguery from certain activists,” Howell said. “We are politicians. We are not experts in scientific game management. That is why the Natural Resources Commission is appointed to take care of that kind of issue.”

But Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) said the voters in 1996 never contemplated that the Natural Resources Commission would make a decision without any basis in sounds science, which he claims is that the body did with its deer baiting ban.

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“If the lawmakers of the state of Michigan are not allowed to make laws and wash this unelected bureaucracy, who is?” LaFave asked.

The vote fell mostly along party lines.

Reps. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), John Chirkun (D-Roseville) and Brian Elder (D-Bay City) voted with the Republicans in support.

Reps. Howell and Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) voted with the Democrats in opposition. Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden) and Rep. Scott Van Singel (R-Grant) declined to vote, citing a potential conflict of interest.

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