Baiting, feeding ban in DNR’s proposal
Madison A DNR-proposed statewide, year-round ban on deer feeding
and baiting is expected to draw the most heat when the Natural
Resources Board (NRB) meets in Racine on Tuesday, June 25.
NRB members are to meet at 1 p.m. that day at the Radisson Inn
Harbor Walk in Racine to take action on a chronic wasting disease
(CWD) emergency rule package from the DNR. That package was
approved by DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell on the morning of June
14. There were whispers a week earlier that the package would
include a statewide, year-round baiting and feeding ban, but it
wasn’t until Bazzell signed the “green sheet” that it became
“I would think it is (going to be) the most controversial part
of the emergency rule,” said Herb Behnke, NRB member from Shawano.
“I’m getting quite a few calls over it already some people are
saying the congress doesn’t speak for them, others are saying that
we don’t need the ban statewide.”
Behnke is one of seven NRB members who will have to vote on the
emergency rule package on June 25. NRB chairman Trig Solberg of
Minocqua was not available for comment at press time.
The DNR’s proposed feeding and baiting ban comes on the heels of
the Conservation Congress’ request for a three-year moratorium on
deer baiting and feeding. Congress chairman Steve Oestreicher of
Harshaw told NRB members of that position during the board’s May
Since then, the state’s Quality Deer Management Association
(QDMA) has come out in support of the DNR’s efforts to fight CWD,
and the Wisconsin Bowhunters’ Association also has come out in
favor of a statewide baiting and feeding ban.
“While there are still many unknowns, the QDMA believes that
decisive action must be taken to prevent further spread of the
disease,” said Brian Murphy, QDMA executive director.
“The preponderance of evidence suggests that CWD could spread
more quickly (if) deer are concentrated at artificial feeding
sites,” Murphy said. “We support the statewide ban on supplemental
feeding and baiting, at least until we can be convinced the threat
of the disease has passed.”
Oestreicher understands that the hunting public is split on the
issue of baiting and feeding.
“We’re just asking for a three-year moratorium. It’s only
temporary. We can look at it again down the road if the board were
to support it now,” he said.
Behnke noted that if the board approves the DNR package, or some
form of it, any baiting and feeding ban would only last through
this year’s hunting season.
“Then my understanding is that the board would have to take
action to make it a permanent rule, but even that would be up for
legislative review after two years,” Behnke said.
In the meantime, NRB members are being lobbied from several
different directions on allowing some form of baiting and feeding
outside of the CWD area. Some legislators have floated the idea of
a reducing the bait limit to six gallons while creating a feeding
limit also at six gallons.
If the NRB approves the DNR rule package as proposed, the rule
includes language that would continue to allow bear baiting, but
would require all bait to be placed in a hole, or hollow stump, and
covered with a rock or log to make the bait inaccessible to deer.
Most bear hunters already set up bait stations in that fashion.
Feeding of birds and small mammals would not be stopped as long
as the feed is inaccessible to deer.
The rest of the rule
The DNR also developed other special proposals to address CWD.
The rule would create two CWD management zones for hunting
regulations: an Intensive Harvest Zone that includes an Eradication
Zone (EZ); and a larger CWD Management Zone that extends out about
40 miles from the center of the infection.
Within the Intensive Harvest Zone, including the Eradication
Zone recommendations include:
Deer numbers be reduced to as close to zero as possible in the
Sharpshooting by DNR employees be allowed in the EZ;
Landowner shooting permits be allowed in the EZ;
Aircraft be used for drives and shooting in the EZ;
Landowner shooting from tractors be allowed in the EZ;
Shooting from vehicles be allowed by DNR employees in the
The EZ could expand if additional CWD deer are found;
A gun season running Oct. 24 through Jan. 31;
An archery season Sept. 14 through Jan. 31.
No separate muzzleloader season.
Within the CWD Management Zone, recommendations include:
The population goal within be 10 deer per square mile of range
for all deer units and partial units in this zone;
Gun season Oct. 24-27 (same period as Oct. Zone T); Nov. 23
through Dec 15 (same periods as nine-day gun season, plus
muzzleloader plus Dec Zone T); Dec. 21 through Jan. 3 (Christmas
week though end of regular archery season);
Archery hunt will run Sept. 14 through Jan. 3;
There will be no separate muzzleloader season.
“These proposed rules are based on the best science available
and reflect our recommendations that the best approach to
controlling CWD is to drastically reduce the deer population in and
near the infected areas,” Bazzell said. “We must do all we can to
stop the spread of this disease.”
The DNR is recommending an earn-a-buck system in order to
achieve the level of herd reduction that is needed in both zones.
Hunters will be allowed to earn multiple bucks. Hunters also can
earn buck permits during the summer in the ongoing landowner permit
program in the Eradication Zone.
Deer removal permits will continue to be issued to landowners in
the Eradication Zone. There would be no limit on the number of deer
killed. Harvested deer would have to be registered at a designated
For a full text of the rule proposal, go to the DNR web site at