Heads up: Committee to vote March 29 on bill related to deer baiting, feeding ban in CWD counties

White-tailed deer hunting changes include modifications to bag limits for several counties throughout the state.

Wisconsin Outdoor News found out early this afternoon (Tuesday, March 28) that the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Legacy scheduled a vote on Assembly Bill 61 – the deer feeding, baiting ban bill for chronic-wasting-disease-affected counties – tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 417 North at the State Capitol.

The bill is being pushed by Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake). The vote was scheduled by committee chairman, Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc).

The Wisconsin Legislature passed a law requiring the DNR to implement a deer baiting and feeding ban in any county where CWD-positive deer are found (wild or game farm animals), or in any county within 10 miles of the CWD-positive deer. Currently, 43 counties have a deer baiting and feeding ban as a result of this legislation.

There isn’t a lot about CWD management that people on all sides of the issue can agree on, but here is one thing that everyone knows – deer feeding in close proximity to one another pass along CWD at a much higher rate than do deer browsing in a “natural” fashion. This feeding/baiting ban is the one main line of defense the state of Wisconsin still owns in the battle against the spread of CWD.

If Jarchow is successful with AB-61, there would be two- and three-year limits on CWD-related baiting/feeding bans, depending on the county and situation. This is the second time Jarchow has tried to get this change — he failed miserably the first time because sportsmen found out about his intent in plenty of time to lay down cover fire in Madison. Not so this time around. All of this is happening on short — but legal — notice.

“As we heard in testimony before this committee, there are no wildlife health experts or veterinarians who believe that the three- and two-year limitation on baiting and feeding of wild deer is sufficient to protect the wild deer herd or in the case of bovine tuberculosis the dairy and cattle industries in the affected counties,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF)

The WWF and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress – both groups represent large segments of the hunting community – are strongly opposed to the bill, Meyer said.

Wisconsin sportsmen have just a narrow window here to contact their legislators and Kleefisch – let them know you oppose AB-61. Contact Kleefisch by email at Rep.Kleefisch@legis.wisconsin.gov, or call him at (608) 266-8551, or locate your legislator’s phone number and email address at this web site: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly.

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