A farmer in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula will be paid $1,000 after a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) official allowed a hunter to take a shot at a bison that had escaped from the farmer. The DNR has taken on liability for the mistake because the hunter had called the DNR to make sure he could legally take the bison before he took the shot.

Farmer Gaven Dietzel raises bison for the meat in Arenac County. He was loading 44 bison onto a trailer to take to market when the pregnant female bison was spooked and ran away. Dietzel told the Detroit Free Press that the animal was worth closer to $2,500, but $999.99 is the maximum claim the state will settle without going to court.

Dietzel’s part-time neighbor, Mark Ceo, a resident of Southfield who lives up north for part of the year, shot the bison for its meat with a muzzleloader after he had checked with state officials. He said he didn’t know where the bison came from, but it didn’t have any tags or other markings.

Spokesman for the DNR, Ed Golder, said the unnamed official who misinformed Ceo incorrectly thought the same rules apply to roaming bison as those that apply to animals which escape from a hunting ranch. In Michigan, once an animal from a hunting ranch escapes, it may legally be taken by a hunter with a DNR license or permit, and it may be voluntarily given up to the DNR for testing. A ranch owner has 48 hours to recover any escaped cervid; after that time has passed, the animal must be culled and not returned to the facility. If the owner culls the animal, the agency can collect the animal, or just its head, for testing.

After the fact, Ceo split the meat with Dietzel and Dietzel even paid half of the butchering cost. “I told him [Dietzel] I was very sorry,” Ceo told the Free Press. “There wasn’t anything I could do about taking the shot back.”

Image from USFWS Mountain Prairie on the flickr Creative Commons

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