Increased Baiting Fines Proposed

When the Natural Resources Commission reinstated deer baiting in the Lower Peninsula, one thing they and the DNR committed to working on was legislation to increase the penalties for any illegal baiting—whether it was out of season, over the amount, or in areas that it wasn’t allowed.

Many hunters and business owners had testified during the “great bait debate” this spring that the fines were not enough to encourage people to follow the law, the minimal fines were just a “cost of doing business” for hunters choosing to take the risk. Currently, the fine for illegal baiting is anywhere from $50 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail, as determined by the court.

 HB 4927, just introduced by Representative Rick Olson (R-Saline) has already had two hearings in the House Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation. This bill would add the following penalties for baiting violations:

  •  Violations regarding baiting would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine ranging from $250 – $500, and the costs of prosecution.
  • A person convicted of a second violation would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine ranging from $500 – $1,000, and the costs of prosecution. Additionally, a person convicted of a second violation would have all hunting licenses revoked for the remainder of the year and would be ineligible to receive a hunting license of any kind for the next two succeeding calendar years.
  • A person convicted of a third or subsequent violation would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine ranging from $1,000 – $2,000, and the cost of prosecution. Additionally, a person convicted of three or more violations would have all hunting licenses revoked for the remainder of the year and would be ineligible to receive a hunting license of any kind for the next three succeeding calendar years.

For those of you that think increasing these baiting penalties sounds like a “get rich quick” scheme for the Department–the DNR receives only a $10 “judgment fee” for every baiting ticket successfully prosecuted; the civil fines explained above actually go to the libraries and/or municipality where the case was heard. The concept of raising the fines and adding in license revocation has proven to be a successful method of curbing illegal snagging.

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