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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Michigan bans melatonin in hunters’ bear bait piles

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Bear hunting in Michigan is a time-honored tradition. The state first began regulating it in the 1920s, and just recently updated those regulations again. One notable change: hunters can’t drug the animals.

It’s not a widespread problem, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it recently started hearing reports of hunters baiting traps with melatonin gummies.

Unlike the infamous “Pablo Escobear” that ingested dozens of kilos of cocaine in the 1980s, and whose story inspired the movie Cocaine Bear, melatonin probably wouldn’t kill a bear or send it into a drug-fueled killing spree. Instead, if a bear eats enough melatonin, it will likely feel groggy, behave strangely and otherwise be unable to think clearly.

Michigan bear hunters are already banned from using drugs, poisons, and anticoagulants in their bait piles. But melatonin is a natural supplement, and until now there wasn’t really a need to regulate it in terms of hunting.

However, the wide availability of the sleep aid, which often come in sugary gummies that bears would find delicious, paired with the apparent lack of skill by some hunters is prompting the change by Michigan’s DNR.

The move was praised as “absolutely wise” by the head of the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation. Mike Thorman told Bridge Michigan anyone who used melatonin in their bait was a “low life.”

“What kind of piss-poor hunter are you that you’ve gotta feed the bear something that’s going to put it to sleep so you can catch it?” Thorman said.

Michigan grants bear hunting licenses via lottery. Last year more than 60,000 people applied for 7,001 licenses. That resulted in just over 1,900 bears being harvested. Michigan is issuing slightly fewer licenses this year. But with one bear for every two square miles, the Michigan DNR thinks more bears will actually be harvested this season.

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BEAR HUNTING IN MICHIGAN IS A TIME-HONORED TRADITION. THE STATE FIRST BEGAN REGULATING IT IN THE 1920s, AND JUST RECENTLY UPDATED THOSE REGULATIONS AGAIN. ONE NOTABLE CHANGE: HUNTERS CAN’T DOPE THE ANIMALS.

IT’S NOT A WIDESPREAD PROBLEM, BUT THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SAYS IT RECENTLY STARTED HEARING REPORTS OF HUNTERS BAITING TRAPS WITH MELATONIN GUMMIES.

UNLIKE THE INFAMOUS PABLO ESCOBEAR THAT INGESTED DOZENS OF KILOS OF COCAINE IN THE 1980s, AND WHOSE STORY INSPIRED THE MOVIE COCAINE BEAR, MELATONIN PROBABLY WOULDN’T KILL A BEAR OR SEND IT INTO A DRUG-FUELED KILLING SPREE. INSTEAD, IF A BEAR EATS ENOUGH MELATONIN, IT WILL LIKELY FEEL GROGGY, BEHAVE STRANGELY, AND OTHERWISE BE UNABLE TO THINK CLEARLY.

MICHIGAN BEAR HUNTERS ARE ALREADY BANNED FROM USING DRUGS, POISONS AND ANTICOAGULANTS IN THEIR BAIT PILES. BUT MELATONIN IS A SUPPLEMENT, AND UNTIL NOW THERE WASN’T REALLY A NEED TO REGULATE IT IN TERMS OF HUNTING.

BUT THE WIDE AVAILABILITY OF THE SLEEP AID, IN OFTEN DELICIOUS GUMMY FORM, PAIRED WITH THE APPARENT LACK OF SKILL BY SOME HUNTERS IS PROMPTING THE CHANGE BY MICHIGAN’S DNR.

THE MOVE WAS PRAISED AS ABSOLUTELY WISE BY THE HEAD OF THE MICHIGAN HUNTING DOG FEDERATION, WHO SAID ANYONE USING MELATONIN IN THEIR BAIT IS A QUOTE “LOW-LIFE” AND “PISS-POOR HUNTER”.

MICHIGAN GRANTS BEAR HUNTING LICENSES VIA LOTTERY. LAST YEAR MORE THAN 60 THOUSAND PEOPLE APPLIED FOR 7001 LICENSES. THAT RESULTED IN JUST OVER 1800 BEARS BEING HARVESTED.

MICHIGAN IS ISSUING SLIGHTLY FEWER LICENSES THIS YEAR. BUT WITH ONE BEAR FOR EVERY 2 SQUARE MILES, THE MICHIGAN DNR THINKS MORE BEARS WILL ACTUALLY BE HARVESTED THIS SEASON.

YOU CAN FIND MORE OF OUR UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ABOUT HUNTING, CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS DOT COM.