BISMARCK – The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will no longer be allowed to impose a ban on the baiting of deer for hunting, if a bill that strode through the ND House of Representatives by a 76-18 version is also approved by the Senate.
Game and Fish has been implementing baiting bans in various deer hunting units in an effort to slow down the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease that primarily affects white-tailed deer. Those opposed to the baiting ban say bait piles do little to curtail the spread of the disease and that CWD does not present a serious danger to the state’s deer herd.
The bill is expected to receive further testimony, for and against, on the Senate side of the isle.
“We’ll still oppose it on the Senate side,” said Scott Peterson, NDGF deputy director. “We have to. It’s just too important.”
Fishing Tournament Bill
A second bill, HB1538, related to Game and Fish fees charged for fishing tournaments, received a 90-2 yes vote in the House. It amends the state’s Century Code to eliminate “conservation fees” collected by Game and Fish and sets a permit application fee limit of $75 for non-profit organizations and $2,500 for others.
Currently, Game and Fish conservation fees can run into the thousands of dollars, which has been a deterrent for some fishing tournaments to utilize North Dakota waters.
Geremy Olson, Washburn, who helped write the bill, says it also addresses several other concerns.
“This bill removes barriers for youth fishing, charities, and conservation funding,” said Olson. “We have a long way to go to get through the Senate, but we’re excited that there’s hope to remove these barriers.”
Both bills are expected to be assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. All bills must be reported out of committee by Wednesday, April 5, and then sent to the floor for a final vote. If either bill is amended in the Senate, it will be returned to the House for their consideration. The legislature is in recess until Wednesday, March 1.