LANSING — State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) voted against House Bill 5180 today in the House Natural Resources Committee, with state Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) also testifying against it. The bill would allow the use of a pneumatic airbow or gun during open firearm or bow hunting seasons, and passed the committee on a 6-3 party-line vote. HB 5180 now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

“Even though the Natural Resources Committee adopted many amendments that make our U.P. sportsmen and women more amenable to supporting HB 5180, especially changing the definition from an airbow to an airgun, the season in which you can hunt with this new technology still spans the entire bow season,” said Cambensy. “In the U.P., we are struggling to bring our deer population back, and many hunters feel that we need to go slow when introducing new technology like this that would add additional stress to deer herds. A fair compromise would be to limit the use of pneumatic guns to rifle season.”

In spite of relatively mild winters over the past two years, the U.P. deer herd numbers are still lower than many hunters would like to see because of previous harsh winters. Chronic Wasting Disease has spread to five Lower Peninsula counties and can also affect deer herd numbers. HB 5180 also allows people with disabilities to hunt with an airbow as long as they have the proper hunting license, and have in their possession, or can produce later, a note from a physician stating that due to their disability or physical limitation they should be allowed to take game with an airbow. A number of sportsmen’s groups have expressed their belief that ample opportunities already exist for people with disabilities to get out in the woods throughout firearm and bow hunting seasons.

 “I testified in opposition to House Bill 5180 because our hunters feel there are too many variables that were left out of the legislative process and discussion,” said Dianda. “Issues such as chronic wasting disease are plaguing our deer population in Michigan and introducing pneumatic guns during rifle season will only deplete our deer population further. I encourage everyone to contact their legislator to voice your concerns.”

HB 5180 now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.