Wisconsin DNR is serious about deer feeding ban


Mar 11, 2001
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Jun 27, 2002

DNR serious about ban

Some say they won't stop feeding deer

By Jessica Bock, Wausau Daily Herald

RINGLE - Until he gets caught, Jeff Wendt says he will continue to feed deer each night, despite a statewide ban approved Tuesday by the Natural Resources Board.

Wendt is probably not alone, officials say, and the state Department of Natural Resources is counting on residents to help enforce the ban it hopes will stop the spread of chronic wasting disease. Biologists have told the DNR that feeding creates unnatural concentrations of deer that can make it easier for the disease to spread.

The DNR will investigate every lead on people who are feeding deer, said Tom Harelson, chief conservation warden with the DNR. Wardens will continue to do routine and possibly even aerial checks for residents still feeding deer after the ban goes into effect, he said. Violators could be fined $200 or more, Harelson said.

With only 153 wardens statewide, Harelson recognizes it will be tough to enforce the ban. That's why the DNR wants residents to realize its importance.

"We believe this can help stop the disease," he said. "And that's something everybody should be concerned about."
The ban should go into effect within a week, said Brad Koele, assistant deer ecologist with the DNR office in Madison.
"Once this is effective, it will be enforced," Koele said. "As much as feeders like watching the deer, it's something we have to do for the health of the herd."
Owners of land, resorts and restaurants use grains, vegetables and mostly corn to lure deer into view.

Wendt, who uses spotlights in his yard to watch deer feed, was shocked when he first heard the DNR was considering a ban. He said he's read a lot on chronic wasting disease and isn't convinced deer feeders help spread the disease.

"I'm very disappointed this passed," said Wendt, who enjoys watching the deer so much that he feeds nearly 60 pounds of corn to about 25 deer on his property each day.

Some deer feeders already stopped before the ban passed Tuesday. Hospice House at Comfort Care and Hospice Services in Wausau replaced the area it used to feed deer outside with a flower garden for patients to enjoy, staff member Betty Kleppe said. Hospice House fed deer because it was nice for patients to watch but stopped a few months ago because of chronic wasting disease, she said.

Diners at Iozzo's Italian Food on Camp Phillips Road enjoyed watching deer feed through windows at the restaurant near the Eau Claire River. The ban probably would affect the restaurant more if the number of deer at the feeder hadn't dropped recently, owner Jim Iozzo said.

Customers often would be so entranced by the deer that they would sit at their table watching after they were finished eating, Iozzo said.

"I used to have to go outside and scare away the deer so tables would open up," he said.

Lately, Iozzo mainly feeds other small wildlife, such as squirrels.
Residents still are allowed to feed birds and small wildlife as long as the food is inaccessible to deer, the DNR says.
The ban, once signed, will be effective for 150 days and could be extended until Sept. 1, 2003.

Not feeding deer is a sacrifice that has to be made, said Bill Vander Zouwen, a DNR official who coordinated rule development for the emergency plan.
"We all value deer whether we watch them or hunt them," he said. "But it's more important to do anything we can to prevent this disease than it is to view deer out the window, as nice as it is."


Well-known member
Oct 24, 2001
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I agree with the ban on baiting. But I am in Missouri, where we can't bait as it is (good thing to me). From the studies I have seen, all baiting really does is make big bucks even more nocturnal.

If the hunters in WI don't help the DNR, and work with the DNR, then the hunters are going to get the blame for the plans not working.

I don't know if attempting to kill all the deer in the target area is a good idea or not, but if the numbers aren't hit according to the plan, the DNR will blame the hunters for not stepping up.

Personal opinion, the hunters need to step up and make some things happen. If the herd in the target area is decimated, it will take time, but the deer will come back. If The herd isn't decimated, how many deer will be infected with CWD?

I guess the options are do nothing and see what happens, or kill all the deer and grow the herd back and see what happens.  I don't know the answer, but I see the hunters getting the blame if they aren't careful.


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