Will hunting law be changed? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will hunting law be changed?

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March 6, 2006

Albany -- There's a proposal in the legislature to make hunting deer over baited fields legal, and hunters are sharply divided over the possibility. Bill sponsor, State Representative Jay Roberts of Ocilla, says the change would only affect hunters in South Georgia, and would help control the deer population.

Tommy Gregors is a member of the Georgia Wildlife Federation Board, and he's teaching his son outdoorsmanship the way he learned it. "We do see declining numbers of hunters in Georgia, and that's why it's very important to set good examples for those and pass those traditions along to people."

A board member with the Georgia Wildlife Federation, Gregors disagrees with a proposal to legalize deer hunting over baited fields and feeders. Gregors said "It's a bad issue for hunters particularly and the image it may portray to the non-hunting public. Really opposed to the message it sends out."

Currently, hunters have to stay 200 yards away from and out of sight of a baited field. The proposed change would allow deer hunters in South Georgia to put any bait like grain or apples in a feeder, to lure the deer, and hunt there, which some say would make it much easier for a quick kill.

State Representative Jay Roberts said, "There is no difference in planting a food plot and setting your stand on it, versus putting your feeder and putting your stand there."

Department of Natural Resources officers say Georgia's deer population is down slightly, but there are still dozens of cars in South Georgia body shops every week, after hitting a deer.

Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance is one of the supporters of his bill. Roberts said " Last year they paid out over $13 million in vehicular to deer collisions." A car we looked at will cost about $3,500 to get back on the road. For Gregors, changing hunting tradition is not the way to help public safety. "Being able to pass it on children or grandchildren, and future generations."

Roberts said he has heard from more hunters in favor of this proposed bill, but knows there are great passion on both sides. If the proposal reaches the House floor, the debate promises to be lively.

In a rules committee meeting last week Roberts said roughly half the members were for the bill, and half against, all passionate in their stance.

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