Bear Hunters Asking DNR to Ban Chocolate in Bait

LANSING—Michigan’s bear hunting community is asking the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to consider banning the use of solid chocolate in bear baits. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in high quantities. 

logan_bear.jpg“As hunters, we have a responsibility to look out for wildlife. We take that seriously,” said Mike Thorman of the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation. “Bait allows us to selectively harvest bears. We don’t want to see non-target wildlife harmed, so we’re being proactive about this.”

Last winter, four bears in New Hampshire died from chocolate toxicity near a 90-pound bait pile containing chocolate. In May 2015, the New Hampshire Game and Fish Commission banned the use of chocolate in bait.

“This is really a matter of using sound science to shape wildlife management decisions,” said Tim Dusterwinkle, president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association. “Our first role as hunters is to conserve the resource we use.”

The Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association have led the charge to ask DNR biologists to study the matter for a possible wildlife conservation order in the 2017 regulation cycle. Other organizations that are supporting the ban of solid chocolate in bear baits include: Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan United Coon Hunters Association, Michigan Fox Hunters Association, Michigan Archery Bear Hunters Association, Michigan Bow Hunters Association, Michigan Longbow Association, Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance, and Safari Club International.

“We’re encouraging our members to voluntarily refrain from using chocolate in baits until then,” said Amy Trotter, deputy director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

Showing 9 reactions

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  • commented 2016-03-04 14:49:40 -0500
    We have used bait with chocolates for years with no problems. So one bear bear cub was found dead with chocolate in it. What I want to know is what else did it have in its stomach ? And was it tested for poison? I know of a lot of bear that died because it was hit with a hunters bullet. Shall we ban bullets ?
  • commented 2016-03-04 14:42:44 -0500
    I say we start working to ban dog hunting. If the dog hunters want to impose their will on bait hunters then let’s be fair.
  • commented 2016-01-28 00:30:04 -0500
    I am a life member of the MI Bear Hunters Association and I know that organization did not poll their members on this issue. I also know the organization strongly favored education as the route to go during 2011 and at the Bear Forum on Dec. 9, 2015. I was there. I also know that educating hunters about the dangers of using chocolate as bear bait is working and creating an unnecessary law to ban it would create a law enforcement nightmare for the DNR and bear hunters. Educating bear hunters about the problems with using chocolate as bear bait is something I’ve been doing since the 1980s and it’s working in MI!!!!
  • commented 2016-01-27 16:39:25 -0500
    Richard, I think you know that they were quoted representing their organizations, not themselves individually, as indicated by “of the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation,” and “president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association,” as well as the list of supporting organizations listed in the second to last paragraph.
  • commented 2016-01-27 16:27:49 -0500
    I find it interesting that the only hunters quoted in the news release about chocolate are hound hunters. Are hound hunters now supposed to dictate the actions of bait hunters? What is the response of bait hunters to a potential ban on chocolate as bait? Granola is a popular bear bait and there are often chocolate chips scattered throughout. Those small pieces of chocolate are not enough to harm bears, so why ban its use?
  • commented 2016-01-27 16:24:45 -0500
    The DNR first recommended a ban on chocolate as bear bait in 2011 after a cub weighing 43 pounds died from eating chocolate in 2010. All of he bear hunting organizations agreed at that time that educating bear hunters about the dangers of using chocolate was the way to go and that has worked well. No animal deaths due to chocolate have been documented since then. The consensus at the Bear Forum in St. Ignace on Dec. 9, 2015 was also to educate hunters about the use of chocolate. What happened since then to change the opinions of all of those organizations listed? How is banning chocolate as bear bait using sound science when education is working and there have been no losses to chocolate since 2010?
  • commented 2016-01-27 15:09:28 -0500
    Thanks to everyone involved. One problem is that people just didn’t know any better. We need everybody, not just hunters, to know.
  • commented 2016-01-27 15:09:27 -0500
    Thanks to everyone involved. One problem is that people just didn’t know any better. We need everybody, not just hunters, to know.
  • commented 2016-01-26 14:13:04 -0500
    I knew bears liked jelly donuts