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New rules forbid chocolate as bear bait in Michigan

Mar 10, 2017

Hunters won't be allowed to bait bears with chocolate for the 2017 hunting season.

The DNR's Natural Resources Commission passed new regulations that apply to bear hunting, including a ban on bait containing chocolate or cocoa products. 

Chocolate is popular with hunters as a bait for the same reasons it's attractive to humans -- it's sweet and high in calories. But chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that is toxic to many animals, including dogs, bears, and many species of wildlife such as wolves and coyotes.

"We've had calls from bait suppliers that are unhappy about the change, but we tried to prevent that by putting a notice in last year's digest," says Kevin Swanson, a Wildlife Management Specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has also significantly increased the bear harvest in the northern Lower Peninsula.

"Our science supports it, our abundance estimate of black bear in the northern lower supports it. Bear numbers have risen about 50 percent in the northern lower peninsula since 2000. We have more nuisance complaints like bluff charges," Swanson says.

The harvest has also been increased in the Upper Peninsula, but to a lesser extent.