“The public is definitely in favor of it,’’ Johnson said.
There’s about $770,000 in the deer feeding-disease account now, and the DNR has allocated $170,000 for deer feeding and wants to retain $600,000 for disease issues.
Said Johnson: “That’s been a common complaint from hunters: They feel $170,000 is a pittance compared to how much money has been generated by deer licenses.’’
That 1998 report to the Legislature called for the DNR to formulate a long-term policy on deer feeding, something that hasn’t been done but needs to be, Boggess said.
“We need to have a discussion about what really makes sense in terms of feeding whitetail deer,’’ Boggess said. The agency clearly would like to discontinue deer feeding, but it would take an act by the Legislature, and Boggess said the DNR has no intention of seeking a change this session.
“We need to get through this winter and then sit down when it’s not in the heat of the moment,’’ he said.
Johnson agrees. But he said his 15,000-member group likely would fight to retain the deer feeding option.
“At this point, we’d have a dispute with them about that, knowing our members are very supportive,’’ Johnson said. “Will that change in the future? I don’t know. I don’t see the passion decreasing. We do have members who don’t agree; they think it’s a waste of time and money. But that’s by far the minority.’’
Meanwhile, Johnson has ordered another 130,000 pounds of feed, to be distributed Saturday.
Doug Smith • firstname.lastname@example.org