Whether you like it or not, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Michigan is a hunter’s state. Each fall, the deer hunting industry alone grosses more than $500 million dollars for our feeble state economy. In addition, hunting advocates argue they are providing a civil service to the state by helping keep the deer population under control and deer-related auto accidents down to a manageable figure each year.

Yet, in spite of these economic and, perhaps, ecological, advantages, it appears that this season the deer hunting craze is finally slowing down to what will one day hopefully be a complete halt to this primitive practice.

This fall, the so-called sport of deer hunting is finding itself with fewer players than usual — in terms of people that is. This is primarily because the Department of Natural Resources has established a ban on deer baiting in the Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, thereby discouraging many hunters. To clarify, deer baiting is the practice of putting out food like apples, carrots and sugary beets to bait deer into stopping and eating at food piles. Once the deer congregate, nearby hunters — primarily bowhunters who need to be in close range — can kill the deer with great ease and efficiency.

The DNR has banned deer baiting this particular season because recently one small doe was found infected with chronic wasting disease, a highly contagious and fatal disease that can spread quickly through deer in close contact with one another — like when they are feeding together. Consider CWD to be Michigan’s mini version of mad cow disease. Only, scientists haven’t found strong evidence to conclude that CWD can spread to humans, and no other infected deer have actually been found.

Regardless, the ban still stands to prevent a potential deer epidemic from spreading. The theory behind this ban is that the state wants to preserve the deer population now, so that hunters can kill them in future hunting seasons later. This is, of course, an argument made in economic terms.

Naturally, this ban has infuriated the huge population of Michiganders who hunt recreationally and the farmers who depend on the bait crop sales. While the farmers’ concerns are legitimate, the minor irritation to hunters who simply can’t bait is a minor consequence hardly worth considering right now.

After all, hunting for meat is no longer imperative to survival. This practice exists primarily for the sake of recreation and tradition — reasons that just don’t validate a practice that promotes the massacre of creatures with which we share this earth. Moreover, population control is a poor rationalization for deer hunting. While the deer population may get out of control and aggravate us in the short run, nature will likely force its population level back into balance in the long run without us having to step in violently. It simply isn’t logical to continue killing for the sake of killing anymore.

Now, it is certainly naive to believe the state can immediately drop this practice given our current economic despair and our history with this industry. Still, it is optimistic to see that the state has been taking steps to facilitate a transition for bait-crop farmers this season. Primarily, the DNR and the state have been helping farmers seek out alternative markets for their unsold crops. If it is too late into this season to find different markets and the crops are certain to go to waste, we can hope these farmers will at least look into donation venues for their surplus food, too.

Once the farmers are fully rehabilitated we will be another step closer to banning hunting. The only thing we really need now is for the state to revitalize its economy enough that it can completely let go of the revenue associated with hunting. For the hunters, this is good news because it doesn’t look like Michigan will be achieving that goal in the immediate future. For the rest of us, we can at least be happy that the deer-baiting ban is preventing a potential deer pandemic and deterring a small population of people from hunting, and that, for now, is progress.

Radhika Upadhyaya is a Business junior.

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