BISMARCK – The bill that has elicited more written testimony than any other in the current session of the State Legislature, HB1151, was first on the agenda of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting Thursday. The bill seeks to prohibit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department from banning baiting for deer.
Game and Fish began implementing a deer baiting ban in response to the presence of chronic wasting disease in the state. As testing revealed the spread of CWD in the state, which the department says is fatal for white-tailed deer and spread through close contact of infected animals, Game and Fish banned the practice of setting out bait for the purpose of attracting deer within hunting range, particularly when bowhunting. The current baiting ban affects about half the state.
The bill had passed the House 76-18 before being sent to the Senate for their consideration.
Rep. Matt Ruby, R-Dis. 40, Minot, testified before the Senate committee Thursday, referring first to the presence of CWD in states other than North Dakota where restrictions on baiting were present.
“The only thing they can boast is that it took longer to spread, but hunting is alive and well in other states where CWD is present,” said Ruby. “Only one deer has been found by Game and Fish that they believe died from CWD.”
Ruby maintained that Game and Fish had shown “zero willingness to compromise” on the issue until HB1151 passed the House by an overwhelming vote.
“Suddenly they want to be at the table,” stated Ruby. “Personally, I don’t think you need to take their opinion. The time has passed.”
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took no immediate action following the hearing. As of this writing, no date had been set for further scrutiny by the committee which is tasked with sending the bill to the Senate floor with a “do pass” or “do not pass” recommendation.