Action Alert: Maine House Paper 321 – Baiting of Deer

Maine House Paper 321 (H.P. 321) would allow the holder of a valid license to hunt deer to place bait to hunt deer. The National Deer Alliance (NDA) opposes the expansion of baiting where not currently legal, but we will not work to repeal baiting where currently legal, except where CWD (or other known diseases) is present. We recognize a number of disadvantages or negative impacts resulting from the use of bait to hunt deer:

  • Disease – Baiting increases density around a single food source and therefore increases the potential for direct and indirect contact among individuals. Currently, there are 12 deer diseases that are thought to be spread by direct contact, two of which are bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease (CWD).
  • Habitat Impact – Studies have shown that baiting can decrease the home range size of deer and therefore can also negatively impact the surrounding native vegetation. Secondarily, many wildlife professionals believe that a reliance on baiting for hunting purposes may reduce native habitat management efforts.
  • Nocturnal Effect – Several studies have shown that baiting of deer increases nocturnal activity and decreases daytime activity.
  • Non-target Species – Scientific data shows that baiting for deer can negatively impact several non-target species, such as songbirds, game birds, and small mammals. Baiting can also increase predation at and around bait sites.
  • Artificial Increase in Carrying Capacity – Baiting can artificially increase a species carrying capacity. This problem is exacerbated when the bait is only available seasonally, especially in the fall (hunting season).
  • Fair Chase – The ethical battle concerning baiting as fair-chase hunting continues to divide both hunters and wildlife professionals.

The practice of baiting and its role in deer management have grown in terms of controversy and complexity in recent years. Therefore, we have used the available scientific data and the experience of professional wildlife biologists in formulating this position. We do, however, support the use of baiting by wildlife professionals conducting scientific research, and we support continued research on the effects on baiting in deer management programs.

Please consider joining NDA in opposing H.P. 321. Passage of this bill would negatively impact the very things we strive to ensure: the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat and hunting. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to oppose H.P. 321.

About Torin Miller

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.