MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday that will dramatically relax deer baiting and feeding bans in counties affected by chronic wasting disease.
Until now, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has indefinitely prohibited baiting and feeding in counties where CWD has been confirmed, as well as any other county within a 10-mile radius of the infected county.
The ban is designed to slow the disease's spread by preventing deer from congregating over feed and bait piles. The DNR has imposed bans in 43 counties.
The bill limits the ban in infected counties to 36 months and in neighboring counties to 24 months. If another deer tests positive during that span, the clock would restart.
The bill is retroactive to January 1, 1998, which means any bans enacted before 2014 will end barring discovery of another CWD-positive deer, said Collin Driscoll, an aide to Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow, who co-authored the bill. Driscoll said the measure will go into effect Thursday.
DNR spokesman James Dick said agency officials are reviewing the new law to see how it affects this year's hunting seasons.
Whitetails of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association both registered in support of the bill. The Sierra Club's Wisconsin chapter, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation all opposed the bill.