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Groups Want to Stop "Death by Chocolate" for Michigan Bears

Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, can kill bears and other animals. (Greg Hume/Wikimedia)
Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, can kill bears and other animals. (Greg Hume/Wikimedia)
January 27, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - Some hunters say "death by chocolate" is not fair game when it comes to the state's bear harvest. Several conservation and hunting organizations in Michigan are calling for a ban on the use of solid chocolate in bear baits.

Amy Trotter, deputy director with Michigan United Conservation Clubs, explains that chocolate contains a poisonous chemical that can be deadly to bears and other animals when used in high quantities.

"Anything with a hint of sweetness is going to attract bears," says Trotter. "Think of Pooh Bear and honey. But it's that huge concentration where a bear or all kinds of different wildlife can see the affects of this theobromine, which is a chemical found in chocolate."

Trotter says groups are asking the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to consider a wildlife conservation order banning chocolate bait in the 2017 regulation cycle. Trotter adds in the meantime, her organization is encouraging hunters to voluntarily refrain from using chocolate in baits.

Last year, New Hampshire banned its use after four bears died from chocolate toxicity near a 90 pound bait pile containing chocolate. And Trotter says a ban in Michigan would help contribute to proper population management.

"Our bear hunters are saying there are fewer and fewer bears in the woods and we've voluntarily worked with the department to reduce our bear quotas, reducing our harvest year after year," says Trotter. "And so this is just one more thing where we can further be a leader in protecting our bear populations."

Other organizations requesting that DNR study the matter include the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, the Michigan State United Coon Hunters Association and the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI