The preliminary deer-hunting results are in: Around $1 million spent testing 8,000 whitetail heads and not a single case of chronic wasting disease found.

While the cost may make some cringe, the test results of deer killed since hunting seasons opened early in the fall are reassuring.

No evidence has been found linking wild deer with the chronic wasting disease that killed a captive deer in Kent County's Algoma Township.

That's no reason, however, to quickly lift the baiting ban.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is taking a lot of heat from hunters who are upset that deer baiting was banned for the entire Lower Peninsula shortly after the diseased deer was found on Aug. 25. Right on the verge of deer-hunting seasons.

Yet, hunters reportedly took the same number of deer in the two-week firearms season in late November as they did in recent years -- about 272,000.

Although there reportedly was some cheating out in the fields and woods with illegal baiting, other hunters played by the rules and worked a little harder for their success this year.

They'll need those skills to hunt without bait for the next two years. The DNR wants to test deer for chronic wasting disease for a total of three years before declaring the state free of the disease.

Hold the course on that ban, until we're all sure that chronic wasting disease isn't here to devastate our state's deer herd.

Hunters have proven that they can manage.

As long as we have a healthy herd of deer.

Which is what that bait ban is all about.

The Bay City Times

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