I once had the misfortune to live in Texas, which can be regarded as the Poster Child for how to do everything wrong when it comes to the regulation of hunting. Actions that are legal in what passes for "hunting" in Texas often will—and should—get someone arrested in Virginia. Among them is baiting. It is illegal in Virginia to use bait as a means to attract game animals. This is as it should be: while this practice is legal in many states, it's a violation of "fair chase" and has many deleterious effects on wildlife populations.

Nevertheless there is a segment of the "hunting" public that demands that baiting be legalized, especially for deer. It's my personal opinion that these people are too lazy or incompetent to hunt ethically; or that they think that putting out bait will enhance their odds of killing a "trophy" animal. The aisles of any Wal-Mart a couple of weeks before deer season are stacked with innumerable varieties of deer bait: it may be illegal to use it, but it's not illegal to sell it, now is it? Of course, no one would ever consider putting it out for "hunting," no, no, Heavens no. It's just for "dietary supplementation" and "promoting herd health," and "ensuring complete nutrition," out of a love for the herd. Right.

Periodically attempts are made to get the General Assembly to amend the state Code to repeal the baiting ban. In the last session this topic was raised yet again, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has produced a report analysing the subject. This document is a complete and devastating refutation of the arguments in favor of baiting. It covers the scientific, game management, and ethical aspects thoroughly and includes a long bibliography of primary references to support DGIF's recommendation that the ban not be lifted.

The report includes as appendices letters from many "stakeholders" in the deer hunting community, among them the Quality Deer Management Association, the National Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, and the Virginia Bear Hunters' Association, supporting DGIF's position.

If ever the baiting lobby succeeds in forcing DGIF to allow baiting, it will be the end of ethical hunting practices in this state. Download a copy of the full report here.