It seems politics has triumphed over common sense concerning the legalization of hunting deer over bait in the Upstate.
Last fall, a technical term caused S.C. Department of Natural Resources law enforcement to stop writing tickets for hunting deer over bait in Upstate counties. This was the foot in the door for the movement to standardize game laws in the state. Instead of bringing the lower state into the fold of good stewardship, we have given in to the practice of baiting deer. The reason argued by proponents of baiting has always been “they do it in the Lowcountry.” This has been their only valid argument.
DNR has always stood its ground on biological facts surrounding the issue. Baiting deer is a monkey wrench thrown into the workings of the natural habitat. Disease and parasite transmission is only the beginning of a long list of biological dangers. DNR has a position paper on its Website under “deer project,” explaining the facts. The ethical issues of fair chase are also obvious.
In 34 years of managing land for wildlife in the Upstate, I have loved the opportunity to make it better. Now it seems someone in a position of power has decided to use that power to satisfy a constituent (or himself). The corn producers will be happy; those who manufacture feeders will be happy; the people with 50 acres of pine monoculture will be happy; but I suspect the one who expects us to be good stewards of his gifts will not be happy.