The number of baiting violations are up, along with trespass complaints and shooting deer without a license.

If you look at tickets written, then baiting and trespass are No. 1,” said Sgt. Dave Shaw, a conservation officer who oversees Kent and five surrounding counties. “But, by far, the most arrests are for tagging violations and illegal deer. Shooting a deer and buying a license after the fact is on the rise.”

The story is somewhat similar statewide, according to captain Tom Courchaine, who oversees law enforcement field operations for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Baiting arrests are down from 2008 when the bating ban first was implemented in the Lower Peninsula.

However, other violations are on the rise.

“We are seeing a lot of license violations, especially in the Upper Peninsula. We see a lot of loaning of licenses, shooting bucks with combo tags that you are not allowed to shoot (smaller antlers than allowed) or those who wait to buy a license.

“They shoot a buck opening day or the next, and then go and buy a license for it. We’ve seen a marked increase in those types of violations.”

Courchaine said Michigan’s troubled economy may be playing a role. With more hunters out of work, an increasing number may be trying to stretch their dollars. But Shaw said trying to cut these corners could end up costing hunters considerably more

Killing a deer without a license can get expensive. They are required to pay $1,000 restitution for each deer, spend a mandatory five days in jail, pay a minimum fine of $250 and lose their hunting privileges for three following years.“It’s not worth it for a $15 license,” Shaw said.

Air surveillance of Kent Ionia, Barry and Allegan counties showed an uptick in baiting activity, Shaw said. Hunters seem to be slipping back into their old patterns, even becoming more crafty, turning to sugar beets rather than carrots because they are less visible. Officers also found bait placed between corn rows to avoid detection.

“The general feeling among our officers is that compliance has slipped. And I saw plenty of bait on the ground,” said Shaw, who conducted the West Michigan over-flights. “Trespass is always a deer season activity we deal with, but this year baiting was right up there.”

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324.43514 Hunting and fishing without license; exception.
Sec. 43514.

(1) A resident, the resident’s spouse, and the resident’s children may hunt small game without a license upon the enclosed farmlands upon which they are regularly domiciled, at a time and in a manner permitted by law; except that they shall obtain a waterfowl hunting license for hunting waterfowl and a federal migratory bird hunting stamp as required by law.

(2) A resident, the resident’s spouse, and the resident’s children may fish without a license in water wholly within the limits of their enclosed farmlands or other enclosed lands upon which they are regularly domiciled, at a time and in a manner permitted by law.

324.43507 Definitions; S.Sec. 43507.

3) “Small game” includes all species of protected game birds and game animals except bear, deer, elk, moose, wild turkey, and fur-bearing animals.

(4) “Small game season” means that period between September 15 and March 31.