Prohibiting Baiting and Feeding
Whether we know it or not, if we hunt deer in one of the 32 counties where baiting and feeding is prohibited , we are (or should be) part of a research project to study this issue and practice.
This is particularly true in northwest Wisconsin.
Recently four counties — Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn — were added to the baiting and feeding prohibition list. This came about because a deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (a fatal brain disease of deer, elk and moose) near Shell Lake in southwest Washburn County. The location where the deer was shot is close enough to the borders of Barron, Burnett and Polk counties that the CWD management plan impacts those counties, as well as Washburn County.
Now, baiting and feeding is prohibited here, not because hunters or anyone else voted to ban the practice, but because of disease implications and a management plan.
The change wasn’t a fight or argument among hunters who put the ban in place, but rather grand opportunity to analyze a number of hunting implications.
Will hunters begin hunting deer differently in these four counties? Will deer habits change? Will the number of deer sightings change? Will the type of deer targeted by hunters change? And will hunters, and those who practiced recreational feeding in the past, accept the new rules, or will they begin to violate either by baiting and feeding, or in their hunting tactics?
I don’t know if someone has already latched onto this opportunity, but someone in an accredited university, or within the DNR, with volunteer assistance from the public, should consider the opportunity to gather useful information, starting now, this September, when the prohibition begins to impact deer and deer hunting.
There are still a number of “control” counties, counties that still allow some baiting and feeding.
These four counties, or parts of them, are very good experimental blocks for such an experiment.
One of the few things preventing this research from moving forward might be that any results may not fit our past opinions. We often ask for science, but when science suggests our opinions were wrong, we don’t want to consider the facts.
Here’s a chance to let science answer a question or two, provided we are willing to accept its outcomes.