Deer baiting and feeding - is your county on the list?

Fifty-two counties are on the "don't bait and feed deer" list. Is your county on it? And why shouldn't I feed and bait deer?

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants to remind hunters and wildlife observers planning fall and winter outdoor activities throughout Wisconsin that deer baiting and feeding is prohibited in 52 counties. Some counties, specifically in the northwest and southern areas, are newly added to the ban list.

Deer baiting and feeding bans are implemented as a tool to limit the spread of disease and specifically CWD. - Photo credit: Jerry Davis

Deer baiting and feeding bans are implemented as a tool to limit the spread of disease and specifically the deadly and highly contagious deer disease, known as chronic wasting disease (CWD) . Bans on baiting and feeding are established within a geographic range of any confirmed CWD case and impact the entire county.

"In order to protect the state's natural resources - in this case, our whitetail deer population - it is important to know and to follow the baiting and feeding bans in the county you hunt or where you live and enjoy watching wildlife," DNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller said. "Baiting and feeding encourages deer to congregate, and have direct contact, thereby increasing the chances of spreading diseases within the herd."

New baiting and feeding bans are in place for Green Lake, Kenosha, Waushara, Wood, Racine, Burnett, Barron, Polk and Washburn counties. Additional baiting and feeding bans may be added in 2019 if new detections of CWD or bovine tuberculosis (bTB) occur in captive or free-roaming deer. All current county-level baiting and feeding bans will remain in effect throughout the 2019 deer hunting season.

The focus is on awareness and education. If enforcement action is appropriate, the penalties are high. The deposit or placement of material to feed or attract the deer comes with a fine between $343.50 and $1,000. Feeders for birds and smaller mammals remain legal.

"Feeders for these smaller animals and birds must be within 50 yards of your home," Schaller said, adding, "And at a height that a deer cannot access it."

The 2019 archery and crossbow deer seasons began in September, followed by a few special seasons for the physically challenged and youth. The nine-day gun deer season starts Nov. 23 and runs through Dec. 1, followed by the muzzleloader and antlerless hunts.

Follow these steps to have your deer sampled for CWD. Please visit the DNR website for more deer baiting and feeding regulations for all counties.