Atlanta, GA (AP) - The Senate has adopted a bill that removes
baiting restrictions on south Georgia deer and hog hunters.
Senators debated for nearly an hour over the issues of property
owners' rights versus equal access to hunting and "fair catches"
versus "easy kills." The chamber passed the measure Wednesday
34-17. The amended proposal now returns to the House.
Currently, hunters can lay bait for deer and hogs but may only
hunt them from 200 yards away -- a rule some argued is unfair
because more affluent hunters can grow food on their property to
use as bait without the distance restrictions.
"We've got a lot of people who have got a lot of passion about
this issue," said Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee. "The only
issue here is how close do you want to allow hunters to be?"
His colleagues saw it differently. Among the proposal's most
vocal opponents was Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, who questioned the
logic of setting boundaries on wildlife.
"Deer don't really know where the county lines are, do they?"
President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams made an impassioned plea
for poor hunters, many of whom he said have sought him out for
years on the legislation.
"They can't buy tracts of land. They're doing good just to make
their trailer payments," Williams said. "What they do have is a
rifle and hopefully somebody willing to let them hunt on their
land. I'm speaking for them."
Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, told fellow senators he is an avid
hunter but spoke against the bill, saying it would corrupt the
sport in Georgia.
"We don't have a problem, and it doesn't need fixing," Heath
said. "Baiting changes the natural behavior of wildlife."
Heath added that the practice is unethical, gives the predator
the advantage and could infringe on the rights of property owners.
House Bill 277: www.legis.ga.gov
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)