Our view: Let experts lead the way on baiting bill
We consider biologists for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to be experts in determining what is best for hunting and wildlife disease prevention within our state.
We consider biologists for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to be experts in determining what is best for hunting and wildlife disease prevention within our state. We don’t agree with every decision made by the department, but the agency does have a certain level of credibility that deserves respect.
So when NDGF staffers and others — including the head of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation — say they have concerns about a proposal moving through the state Legislature, we listen.
The proposal is House Bill 1151, which would restrict the Game and Fish Department from banning baiting of deer and other big game. The concern, as laid out by NDGF and other wildlife experts, is that baiting contributes to the spread of chronic wasting disease.
CWD is a serious problem in North Dakota, Minnesota, and across North America. As the Grand Forks Herald noted in an editorial just last week, Minnesota lawmakers are working to make changes in law to restrict the spread of the highly contagious and fatal disease that affects the nervous system of deer.
In Minnesota, one idea is to shift oversight of captive deer farms from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to the state Department of Natural Resources. It also would ban any new deer farms in the state and require all captive deer to be tested for CWD. Doing so would be a good move, since deer farms — according to comments made by wildlife biologists — are big contributors to the spread of CWD.
And since Minnesota deer can easily cross into North Dakota, any work in that state to stymie CWD can help efforts in this state.
But in North Dakota, HB 1151 could actually increase the chances of CWD spread. It passed the House in a 76-18 vote and now heads to the Senate.
We're against HB 1151, because it takes away the legitimacy of the Game and Fish Department, increases the possibility of CWD spread, and allows for baiting, which just isn’t a sporting way to hunt big game.
The Game and Fish doesn’t oppose HB 1151 on ethical grounds, but it does have great concerns about its possible effect on spreading CWD.
Others believe so, too.
“HB 1151, strips away the authority from the Game and Fish Department to manage wildlife disease in North Dakota,” John Bradley, executive director of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, told the Herald. “Proponents of the bill took advantage of misinformation on chronic wasting disease and minimized the role that baiting has in its spread. CWD, if left unchecked, will decimate North Dakota's deer, elk, and moose populations.”
It would be best if lawmakers simply trusted the opinion of the experts — in this case, those trained biologists who are on the state payroll and whose job it is to protect and preserve North Dakota wildlife.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation are both strongly against HB 1151. They know what they’re talking about.
Let’s let the experts lead the way on this one.