Whitmer vetoes bill that would get rid of deer baiting ban

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill Thursday that would have repealed a ban on deer baiting in Michigan.

Whitmer’s administration had opposed the bill and the governor was expected to veto the legislation, which would have removed the authority of the Natural Resources Commission to ban deer baiting and feeding.

Ann Arbor’s city council approved a plan to kill deer that are living in parks and natural areas and on some private land

The move marks the first time Whitmer has used the veto pen on a full policy bill. Her vetoes thus far have been limited to line items within budgets, including the 147 line item vetoes in the fiscal year budget. 

The bill, which was backed by musician Ted Nugent, would have undone a 2018 ban to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer gathered around bait piles. Voters approved an initiative in 1996 that gave the Natural Resources Commission authority over wildlife regulation.

The commission’s ban was “based on strong scientific evidence” showing deer and elk are more likely to congregate and transmit diseases around bait piles.

“This legislation would’ve increased the chance of spreading wildlife disease within wildlife populations and the beef and dairy industries, which are vital to Michigan’s economy,” Whitmer said. “That’s not a risk we can afford to take.”

The veto was criticized by bill sponsor Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, who said the veto was proof Whitmer “is completely out of touch with people in northern Michigan.”

She asked the governor and Department of Natural Resources to find a compromise on the legislation.

“The baiting ban does absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of disease among our deer,” Hoitenga said in a statement. “In fact, it’s having the opposite effect by driving hunters away from the sport. Thinning out the deer herd is the best way to prevent disease from spreading. We need hunters to participate to prevent overpopulation.”

Whitmer also vetoed legislation Thursday that would have allowed county road commissions to enter into longer contracts because it would have only applied to areas with 100,000 people or fewer, “which unfairly discriminates against larger counties.”