GAYLORD, Mich. (AP) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a bill that would have protected people from possible legal action if they fed birds in areas where deer and elk roam.
Whitmer said the bill conflicts with the state’s efforts to prevent animals from congregating and spreading disease.
“Mary Poppins would be disappointed”, said sponsor, Rep Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, referring to the magical nanny in the book and movie lovingly singing about feeding birds.
Feeding birds is not illegal in Michigan. But it is illegal to take out food that may attract or attract deer. The Natural Resources Department recommends that people in rural areas use tube feeders or tallow cages at least six feet off the ground, perhaps surrounded by a metal fence.
Borton’s bill would have explicitly allowed people to place or spread food within 300 feet of their homes. There would have been a cap on the amount of food.
But Whitmer said Thursday that Bill 4088 “Would dismiss the principles of healthy disease management” and threaten agriculture and hunting.
The DNR and the Michigan Farm Bureau opposed the bill in April.
“Unfortunately, overly broad government rules punish individuals who simply place food in their backyard, even to prevent animals from starving,” he added. Borton said in response to the veto.
More than a decade before he became a lawmaker, Borton was accused of not doing enough to prevent deer from feeding in Otsego County. He said the case was closed.