By: DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement
RHINELANDER, Wis. - Hunters, wildlife observers and residents are reminded a ban on baiting and feeding deer is in effect and will be enforced in Oneida, Forest and Vilas counties following the detection of chronic wasting disease in two captive white-tailed deer in Oneida County.
Wis. Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens are transitioning from their nearly year-long public education phase of the new law into enforcement about the time the fall and winter deer hunting seasons begin. The law, which took effect on January 11, only bans baiting and feeding of deer. Feeding birds and small mammals still is allowed provided the feeders are not accessible by deer.
DNR Warden Dave Walz, based in Woodruff, says voluntary compliance by all is the goal.
"The wardens' role is to use a 3-prong approach of education, enforcement and community involvement to achieve voluntary compliance. In this case, the law is for the overall health of the deer herd," Walz said, adding the wardens often get complaints from the public about people not complying with the baiting and feeding ban.
Walz says the law provides for a maximum fine of $2,152 and the possible loss of hunting privileges for those who violate the ban in the three counties.
"The WDNR is working to spread the word of the new ban so enforcement action isn't needed," he said.
Walz says when it comes to baiting and feeding, he often is asked by the public why other counties are included in a ban area if the fatal brain disease was found in only one. It's all about geography and not a county line, he said.
"Forest and Vilas counties are within a 10-mile radius of the Oneida County property where the chronic wasting disease was found," he said. "State law requires that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources enact a ban on feeding and baiting of deer in counties or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of disease detection."
Walz says with the addition of the three northern counties, Wisconsin now has baiting and feeding prohibitions in 41 of its 72 counties.
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.
"Remember, anyone who likes to feed birds and small mammals may do that under the law as long as the feeding device is within 50 yards of the human dwelling and is at a height or design so a deer cannot access it," Walz said.
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, you may confidentially report your information by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay reported information to conservation wardens.