September 23, 2014

Barcia speaks out on disdainful ban

By Tim Barnum
Staff Writer
Posted

MICHIGAN — State Representatives, hunters, bait merchants and farmers have all spoken out on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ deer baiting and feeding ban and now, Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City), the new chairman of the Senate’s Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation Committee, offers up his criticism, calling the DNR ban due to a case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) found in a captive deer in Kent County a “knee-jerk reaction.”

“There’s a whole lot of things they (DNR) haven’t considered,” Barcia said, adding the department may not have even thought about its own financial well-being. “The DNR only receives one percent of its funding from the state general fund. The rest is all user fees. … I suspect that they’ll see a significant decline in the number of hunting licenses this year.”

Barcia pointed out, too, that the DNR was looking to double the cost of license fees from $15 to $30, which would also have an impact on sales. He added the DNR also didn’t consider the amount of layoffs of conservation officers that would occur due to the revenue drop caused by the drop in license sales.

Barcia also says the DNR, along with the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), which held hearings on Thursday, Sept. 11 regarding the ban didn’t properly evaluate how deer are exposed to one another over food plots and naturally.

For one, Barcia said, the DNR and NRC didn’t account for what he says is a deer’s favorite food, the white oak acorn.

“You’re going to ban baiting by hunters, but when the bait is gone the deer are going to be more attracted to acorns and apples and fallen pears,” Barcia said. “They’re still going to be congregating at the base of those trees.”

According to Barcia, feed plots, which he says are basically fields that range from a half-acre to five acres in size and were not banned, also expose deer to saliva, nasal, urines and defecation secretions, although the chance may be less than at a small bait pile.

Another issue Barcia noted was how ineffective a ban was found to be in New York and Wisconsin, where cases of CWD were discovered in the past.

The Senator, who says he has hunted for 42 years, said in New York, specifically, 4,000 deer were killed in a region where a case was found 10 years ago.

“None (of the killed deer in New York) were found to carry the CWD marker,” Barcia said. “I suspect as in New York, that there will be no more cases of CWD (in Michigan).”

And as reported in past issues of “the Arenac County Independent,” Barcia spoke out on the economic hit the ban will cause.

“I have several farmers that have contacted me that have spent $100,000 on sugar beets,” he said. “For some of these people we’re looking at bankruptcy.

“Outdoor recreation has a multi-billion dollar impact to our state.”

But unfortunately, Barcia says the DNR and NRC don’t appear to be lightening up on the ban, although the two groups have started lifting a concurrent quarantine on deer ranches. A twist Barcia called “ironic,” since a captive deer facility is where the case of CWD was found in Michigan.

“They (NRC and DNR) seem to be headstrong in this issue,” he said. “What we need to do is take a deep breath, take a step back and let the baiting continue through this year.”

Barcia has also joined with 103rd District Representative Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) in pushing a resolution through the legislature to lift the ban.

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