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Upstate Deer Baiting Bill on Fast Track to Becoming Law

web posted February 2, 2013

GUEST OPINION - Alert for Hunters in Game Zone 1 and 2. Bill S091 which will allow the shooting of deer over bait in game zones 1 and 2 has passed the Senate and the Sub-committee of the House. The Bill whizzed through the house with a 22-15 vote with 14 of the Aye votes cast being Lowstate or baiting influenced county votes. The Bill passed the House sub-committee with a 3-1 vote with the lone nay vote being from Rep. Shannon Riley from the Upstate. Even lawmakers are stunned as to how fast this bill has moved through the Senate and is moving through the House. Nothing usually given fair consideration passes/ moves so expediently.

S091 has been sent to full committee of the House and may be voted on, as early as, Tues Feb 5. If S091 passes the House committee it will most likely become law.

If you are against this bill then contact your House Representative and the members of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee and ask them to kill this bill while it is still in committee before it reaches the floor of the House. The link for the committee members is below. Make sure you also contact the Low State members voting, their votes are crucial and they need to hear from you, the Upstate hunter, since technically they have no dog in the fight. Please pass this information on to your Upstate hunting buddies and friends. It is URGENT! http://www.scstatehouse.gov/committeeinfo/houseagri.php

A little history as to how S091 was birthed:
Within the last couple of hunting season a hunter was caught hunting deer over bait and charged as such based on the current law in the books. The hunter took the case to the magistrate in the area, I would think which involved connections, and the case was dismissed. The case was appealed according to the existing wildlife laws on the books. The offender retained a slick lawyer and the ruling by the magistrate was upheld.
Long story short, the South Carolina Attorney General ruled the existing law on the books could not uphold in a court of law. The law reads as follows: July 2012 regulations, pg 47- “In game zones 1 and 2...... it is unlawful to bait for deer.” The S.C. Attorney General ruled that the law stated no baiting for deer not that you could not shoot deer over bait.

Please give me a break, I know the intention of that law, you know the intention of that law, and the violator knew the intention of that law. Now whether you choose to be a law abiding citizen or not that is a separate issue. Based on the ruling above, SCDNR Law Enforcement Officers were instructed to refrain from writing citations for baiting in game zones 1 and 2. That leads us to Bill S091.

I was asked recently, at the House Sub-Committee meeting, why I oppose baiting as an outdoorsman. Well bear with me---- here goes:

1) Not hunting over bait is my hunting heritage and I would like to see that type of hunting preserved in the Upstate. I am not judging others that bait or want to bait, just for me, I don't like sitting on a pile of corn. About twenty years ago I did bait hunt on a few Lowstate invites, it just was not for me. I realize baiting is not the magic fix to see or kill deer but I feel it gives the hunter an unfair advantage. I really don't care what the low state does, we all have an opinion or roots and these are mine.

2) Not judging but I honestly don't think killing deer over bait is fair pursuit of game. I am just common Joe but honestly I have had my eyes opened to a few hunting/ gun owning facts the last few weeks. It has been statistically proven that if a hunter asks for permission to hunt an owner’s land, of the ones that grant permission, 80% will allow hunting on their property only if fair chase and pursuit of game is involved. Sitting on a corn pile or bait does not represent fair chase in the eyes of most non-hunting land owner’s .The fact is, with gun ownership issues as they are the non-hunter but pro gun owners opinion does matter. And, as stated above, 80% don't see baiting as fair pursuit.

3) From an economic stand point, I just can't afford it. So folks say don't do it if it passes. Well I know for a fact, from my Lowstate buddies, to keep deer on my 50 hunting acres, if my neighbors bait I will have to defense bait. I just don't have the $$$ to do it. Also if S091 passes expect your hunting lease price in the Upstate to increase drastically. Why, because of an influx of hunters from other areas bidding on your lease since they can now go the easy route of baiting.

4) Folks have said give me biological proof of the harm of baiting or I want it because the Lowstate has it. In the 1998 July/ August edition of turkey talk Dr. James Earl Kennamer wrote an article titled "Deer Corn Can Harm Wild Turkeys" The article is about aflatoxin poisoning transmitted through the feeding of deer corn. Lab studies show it is real. The studies showed negative effects on quail chicks and young turkeys. It also references poisoning confirmed cases of geese and ducks. The study states, “samples were taken from 39 food bins in SC and NC, in 51% of those samples poisoning levels were present..... 10% had extremely high levels of aflatoxin.” Why take the chance with our wildlife resources, you can harvest plenty of deer in the upstate without baiting.

5) An executive from Quality Deer Management (QDM) was at the sub-committee meeting. He referenced cases where deer diseases have been spread in bait piles in other states. He stated, “Yes deer wasting disease is still a few states away but it is surely a matter of time before a case shows up in South Carolina.” Again why take the chance to harvest a deer on corn you can already harvest in the upstate without corn? WHY INVITE THE PLAGUE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE IF YOU DON”T HAVE IT?

6)"They do it in the Lowstate and other counties so I want to do it also" I/we have heard it over and over. An extreme rebuttal but, pot is legal in California, that doesn’t mean I think it is right or for that matter want it legal in SC! Yes, I know, extreme so fire away. But my point is, the Lowstate and Upstate are different diverse regions of the state with wildlife needs and hunting heritage differing. Always has been different, always will be different. Just because they have it DOWN THERE, doesn’t necessarily make it right for UP HERE. That is why you have game zones, different limits, and different seasons.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has not and can not come out and support any bill or legislation of this nature, pro or con, for obvious reasons. SCDNR just wants a bill they can enforce. But my understanding is the DNR Board is against baiting in the Upstate. Reference a Feb 2012 vote online. I believe only one vote for baiting in the upstate was cast.

Let's amend the old law, give DNR something a lawyer can't intentionally put in shambles, and have no shooting of deer over bait in the Upstate.

It has been said, talk on the street, as long as a year ago that shooting deer over bait in the Upsate is a done deal and it will be passed as law. I guess the point is, this thing has been ram rodded, and I don’t like to see issues shoved down my or the voting publics throat.

In closing I would like to say, the Senator sponsoring the bill opened the meeting by stating, “The Jeannie is out of the bottle- we can not turn back, we need to pass this bill.” You see it has been called a done deal, the passing of S091, and non-baiter's opinions are not supposed to matter. As I addressed the committee I told them, “The Jeannie is not yet out of the bottle, the cork has just been removed. You have the opportunity and should put the cork back in the bottle. Draft amendments to the existing laws that prohibit the shooting of deer over bait in the Upstate and leave our Upstate hunting tradition as it is.

P.S. Hunter if you think this bill is just about baiting for deer, you better reconsider or shall I say wake up! The ramifications of S091 go far deeper than the baiting of deer. With gun control issues as they are now, the lobbyist for gun control are looking for any reason(s) to take your firearms. These will most likely start with the hunter, and a Bill as in S091, which involves no fair chase of game in the non-hunters eyes just cracks the door a little wider for them to enter. HUNTER BEWARE!

Concerned Game Zone 1 and 2 Hunter
Steve Seigler
Edgefield SC

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