Farmers and vendors in Michigan who provide deer bait are facing a major financial hit this hunting season because of a ban on using bait to hunt.
Hunters caught using carrots, sugar beets and other vegetables for bait face up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail if convicted. The state enacted the ban after a deer infected with chronic wasting disease was found in a contained pen in Kent County, Mich.
The disease is contagious and has been found in other states, which have enacted bans similar to the one in Michigan, where the deer feed industry is believed to be as high as $100 million a year. A ban will hurt farmers, gas stations and roadside operations that sell bait as well as manufacturers of deer feed, said attorney Ed McNeely, who filed a lawsuit against the state to lift the ban.
Mike Van Den Bosch, a manager at John A. Van Den Bosch, a wholesaler for deer feed and scientifically engineered deer attractants in Holland, Mich., says the company's inventory is backing up by the truckloads.
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“Lots of orders have been canceled,” Van Den Bosch said. His company will lose $750,000, he said.
“Hunters should anticipate the ban through the entire season,” said Mary Dettloff, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources. Because the disease has a slow incubation period, she said, the department must take hard measures and test aggressively when the disease is discovered.
Some say the ban will have a more widespread impact, as hunters not allowed to use deer bait could stay home, thereby not buying licenses, food, beverages and clothing, and not staying at hotels and campsites. The overall hunting business in Michigan is estimated to generate $500 million a year.