The Wisconsin DNR is banning baiting and feeding of deer in four northwestern counties because of the recent discovery of a deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The counties include Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn , and the ban goes into effect Thursday.
The 3 ½-year-old infected whitetail was found just outside Shell Lake, about 60 miles east of Pine City, Minn. Later DNA testing confirmed that the deer is from the area.
Barron, Burnett and Polk counties are within a 10-mile radius of the Washburn County property where the deer was found. State law requires that counties or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of a game farm or free-ranging CWD-positive are included in the baiting and feeding prohibition. With the addition of these four counties, baiting and feeding of deer is banned in 32 Wisconsin counties.
Here’s more from DNR news release:
“While we lament this news, we welcome the positive response we’ve heard from area deer hunters,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We held an informational meeting with local citizens and nearly 200 showed up and stayed for hours asking good questions of our wildlife, law enforcement and wildlife health staff. In the end, my executive assistant Scott Gunderson asked the crowd how they felt about an immediate baiting and feeding ban and it was overwhelmingly supported.”
No changes are planned for the 2012 deer hunting season rules in the affected counties other than the ban on baiting and feeding, said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management. Hunters will be asked to provide tissue samples from deer killed within a 10-mile radius of the CWD positive doe for further surveillance testing. Samples will also be collected from road kills and possibly taxidermists and meat processors. Details of the sampling and testing program will be shared widely in subsequent news releases and on the DNR website dnr.wil.gov keyword CWD, as the details are finalized.
“Baiting and feeding of deer unnecessarily increases the risk of spreading CWD and other diseases,” Hauge said. “Animal health is important to preserving our great hunting tradition and is a foundation of tourism and vital to local businesses.”
Baiting and feeding increase risks of spreading communicable diseases, like CWD, by concentrating deer in one spot. Deer using one spot are more at risk for spreading a disease.
Individuals can still feed birds and small mammals provided the feeding devices are at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer and the feeding device is within 50 yards of a human dwelling. This ban does not affect the use of bait for hunting bear or training bear dogs.