Fish and Game Club seeks support on deer baiting concerns

LITTLE CURRENT—The Little Current Fish and Game Club (LCFGC) has passed a motion and is seeking support from other fish and game club members of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone D in regards to their concerns on baiting deer practices being carried out on Manitoulin Island.

“We just passed a motion at our meeting May 17, concerning baiting and have forwarded it to the OFAH Zone D for distribution to all fish and game clubs within the district,” said Bill Strain of the LCFGC last week. “It relates to a problem we’ve had in certain areas where people from off-Island bring truckloads of things like potatoes, carrots etc. before the season to bait deer. They bring them from areas like the Holland Marsh in Barrie and these food items attract deer from all over.”

“Meanwhile neighboring property owners are ticked off because, even in some cases where they have  200-300 acres, they don’t see any deer,” said Mr. Strain.

“Our club just feels this is unethical,” stated Mr. Strain. “We have no problem with someone for instance putting out a pail of apples prior to the season, but not this large scale baiting. In states in the US like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio this is not allowed at all.”

There are no regulations at all in the province of Ontario against deer baiting,” said Mr. Strain. “That is our concern.”

Mr. Strain said the motion will be sent to the OFAH Zone D for submission to all the clubs in this zone for discussion and support and then back to the OFAH for its support. Then if the OFAH agrees to support the motion it can be taken to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

“We agree with deer plots, and are not against farmers who produce alfalfa in their fields, this is all good,”  stressed Mr. Strain.

“This practice of deer baiting has been going on for several years,” said Mr. Strain. “One of the things I hear is that certain landowners on Manitoulin are selling two or three day hunts on their property of say 300-400 acres over their bait piles. After they are done their hunt, the next group comes in and has the same opportunity. Meanwhile neighbouring property owners are seeing this taking place over their fence, with deer being baited with a huge bait pile for deer. That’s the problem.”

In its letter to the OFAH, the LCFGC explains, “the Little Current Fish and Game Club is dealing with a particular situation on Manitoulin Island (WMU’s 43A and 43B) concerning the baiting of deer.”

“We are seeking the support and endorsement of the Fish and Game Clubs in Zone D and ultimately the OFAH in requesting that the provincial government develop and implement regulations dealing with the baiting of deer in WMU’s 43A and 43B,” the LCFGC continues. “The province has recognized the uniqueness of Manitoulin Island in the past when it introduced regulations specific to the Island concerning written landowner permission and delaying the rifle deer season to a later time to accommodate the needs of the agricultural community. Once again we ask the province to recognize this uniqueness and put into place regulations specific to WMU’s 43A and 43B.”

“Although the majority of hunters on Manitoulin do not bait excessively, are respectful to hunters around them and value a healthy sustainable deer herd, there is a minority that show no apparent regard for the environment, social and cultural impact that excessive baiting may have. (Environmental refers to the impact on deer populations and the spinoffs from that. Social refers to the divisiveness and unrest it creates within the hunting community and by extension, the community at large. Cultural refers to traditional ethical deer baiting practices and the likelihood that if this does not stop, other hunters, with no viable option, may be led to engage in the practice in order to experience some measure of hunting success. This can only exacerbate the situation.”

“Over the past several years, thousands of kilograms of bait have been dispersed annually over small parcels in sections of WMU’s 43A and 43B,” continues the letter. “This practice of baiting with excessive quantities creates not only unethical hunting advantage but results in a harvest rate that cannot be sustained by the herd. No less importantly, it creates a potentially unhealthy situation, one that facilitates the spread of disease when large numbers of deer are occupying a small area.”

“The LCFGC is suggesting that the regulations include, but not be limited to the following: 1-the quantity of bait that can be placed at one site; 2-the proximity of each bait site to the other bait sites; 3-the timing of when baiting may occur. We also recommend that any regulations exempt legitimate farming practices and cultivated food plots. We further suggest that the province seek input from the Manitoulin Island community before any regulations are enacted.”