Deer Hunt 2017: Baiting and feeding ban

CWD drop off site at Shawano DNR office, November 6, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Deer Hunt 2017 is quickly approaching, and changes to rules regarding baiting and feeding may have some, changing their hunting strategy.

Bags of cracked corn and piles of apples may be on the checklist for some hunters this season.

"There's a fundamental change in the baiting and feeding law in the state, whereas it relates to chronic wasting disease management. Once a county entered a baiting and feeding ban, it was perpetual. So now, that law has changed to add a sunset clause," said Jeff Pritzl, DNR District Wildlife Supervisor.

That sunset clause means hunters in more counties will be able to use bait and feed this season. In the past, 43 counties were part of the ban. But as of August, that number has shrunk to 28. In Northeast Wisconsin, Counties like Manitowoc, Calumet, Sheboygan, Dodge, and Waushara are no longer banned.

DNR biologists say deer are social animals, and piles of bait can be prime places to spread disease. Those biologists say there are no confirmed cases of CWD transfering to humans, but contaminated venison should not be eaten. The restrictions stem from Chronic Wasting Disease being found in deer, either in the wild or in a captive situation. Now, If no CWD is found in a county for three years after a positive CWD test is confirmed, or for two years in an area within a 10-mile radius of the county affected, the ban would be lifted. But DNR biologists say it's a fluid situation.

"Every year now, as occurrences may kind of on the periphery, or the edge of CWD occurence, and or with captive facilities, annually that landscape can change, as far as which counties are in and out of the baiting and feeding ban," said Pritzl.


Pritzl says the best way to confirm CWD is to get the brain of the harvested animal tested. Drop-off sites are set up around the area, including Shawano and Oconto Counties. The area is under the ban, after a captive deer tested positive for CWD last year.

Meanwhile the discussion over bait and the ban, continues.

"As to its effectiveness, I really have to wonder sometimes, but it is what we're doing to control CWD," said Bob Ellingson, Oconto County Deer Advisory Council.

"When the deer have to move to feed, I always use the reference of 18 minutes on a bait pile, or 18 hours of browsing, Well if they can browse all night which they don't, you're still going to see movement during the day," said Wade Jeske, Lena Swamp Archery Owner.

"Because that issue has been controversial for so long, it's not as much of a discussion item because everyone kind of knows where they're at. And that's a situation to be worked out now between, within a particular landowner, and between neighbors," said Pritzl.

The season opens at daybreak on Saturday.

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