LANSING—Michigan’s bear hunting community is asking the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to consider banning the use of solid chocolate in bear baits. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in high quantities.
“As hunters, we have a responsibility to look out for wildlife. We take that seriously,” said Mike Thorman of the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation. “Bait allows us to selectively harvest bears. We don’t want to see non-target wildlife harmed, so we’re being proactive about this.”
Last winter, four bears in New Hampshire died from chocolate toxicity near a 90-pound bait pile containing chocolate. In May 2015, the New Hampshire Game and Fish Commission banned the use of chocolate in bait.
“This is really a matter of using sound science to shape wildlife management decisions,” said Tim Dusterwinkle, president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association. “Our first role as hunters is to conserve the resource we use.”
The Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association have led the charge to ask DNR biologists to study the matter for a possible wildlife conservation order in the 2017 regulation cycle. Other organizations that are supporting the ban of solid chocolate in bear baits include: Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan United Coon Hunters Association, Michigan Fox Hunters Association, Michigan Archery Bear Hunters Association, Michigan Bow Hunters Association, Michigan Longbow Association, Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance, and Safari Club International.
“We’re encouraging our members to voluntarily refrain from using chocolate in baits until then,” said Amy Trotter, deputy director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs.