Thursday, July 08, 2010

CWD Controversy still stalking elk feedgrounds in Wyoming 2010


This is very serious, please notice that one of the CWD clusters is only 45 miles from ELK feeding grounds in Wyoming, the second elk feeding ground is 98 miles from CWD cluster, and the third elk feeding ground is 130 miles from the CWD cluster. Common sense tells us we need to stop those feeding grounds, if you want your Elk to survive. There is no politics or plot against the hunters or elk about it. read the science please. ...TSS

chronic wasting disease proximity to elk feedgrounds in wyoming 2009-2010

Wednesday, November 11, 2009




CODY- Chronic wasting disease (CWD) a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk and moose, has been discovered for a second time in a deer hunt area this fall, bringing the known total of CWD areas in the Big Horn Basin to nine. A mule deer buck taken on October 15, 2009 in the Spring Creek drainage southeast of Ten Sleep has tested positive for the disease. Deer hunt area 42 is flanked by known positive deer hunt area 30 to the east and deer hunt area 164 to the west. The disease is now known to occur in Big Horn Basin deer hunt areas 37, 41, 42, 46, 120, 122, 125, 127, 164.

Controversy still stalking elk feedgrounds in Wyoming

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Claiming elk feed grounds in Wyoming are creating a serious disease risk to elk and other wildlife, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Wyoming Outdoor Council have recently requested a federal district court to shut them down, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. The plaintiffs are arguing that 12 of the feedgrounds are on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, so those agencies should be required to undertake an environmental review of their respective feedground operations. Also argued is that several of the feedgrounds have outdated federal permits, which need to be evaluated before being reauthorized.

In response, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers are arguing that the feedgrounds have a long history and, because the State of Wyoming has the authority to manage game species within its boundaries, the operation of the feedgrounds does not qualify as a major federal action requiring environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. They further argue that the permits, although old, are valid nonetheless. Finally, the DOJ attorneys assert that the complaining groups have waited too long to challenge the long-established operations.

The feedgrounds were established in the 1930s and 1940s to compensate for reduced elk habitats and to help keep the animals from competing with livestock for hay fed on private lands.

The State of Wyoming filed as an intervenor in the case. It, too, affirmed that it has authority to manage its wildlife and that to ask the Forest Service to manage such wildlife was unacceptable.

Brucellosis, a disease that causes premature abortions in elk and livestock, has long been a problem on the feedgrounds. To combat the disease, Wyoming, in early 2006 started a controversial five-year “test and slaughter” program on the Muddy Creek feedground. The program was designed to reduce the incidence of the disease. It was precipitated in 2003 by an outbreak of brucellosis in cattle that was linked to infected feedground elk. That outbreak caused the state to lose its “brucellosis-free” status, a costly outcome to the livestock industry. In September of 2006, partially as a result of disease control work, Wyoming regained its “brucellosis-free” status.

The plaintiffs contend that the notion that elk must be killed to control brucellosis is the wrong approach. They say that a key reason for the presence of the disease is the continued existence of the feedgrounds, which results in unnatural crowding of elk. A further contention is that the feedgrounds themselves should be abandoned. And they also point out that Chronic Wasting Disease, a new and fatal disease to elk, is inching closer to the feedgrounds. The groups maintain that, if the disease reaches the feedgrounds, the impact on the elk herd would be disastrous.

The State of Wyoming has allowed that the feedgrounds may create a favorable situation for disease transmission, but it has countered that, in the absence of the feedgrounds, the number of elk in the Yellowstone ecosystem would be significantly reduced and conflicts with livestock on private feedgrounds would be significantly increased—the same two factors that led to creation of the feedgrounds nearly 70 years ago.

Long-term critics of the feedgrounds have argued that what is needed is a fresh and thorough look at the feeding program based on an evaluation of each feedground with the intent of phasing each one out over time by implementing such things as extensive habitat improvement, potential buy-out of public land grazing leases, and use of late season depredation hunts to keep elk off of private livestock feedgrounds. They have suggested that funding for these initiatives could come from a mix of private and public funds and perhaps be guided by an organization like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Appeals Court Rules in Case Challenging Elk Feed Grounds Phasing out annual winter feedings needed to protect elk, other wildlife

July 10, 2009

Elk in pen Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Denver, CO -- Today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mixed ruling in a lawsuit brought by conservationists seeking to protect elk and other wildlife from disease.

The conservation groups challenged winter elk feeding programs on federal lands in Wyoming because dense crowding of elk on feed grounds encourages outbreaks of wildlife disease. One such disease is brucellosis which is shared by both elk and domestic cattle. Brucellosis in elk herds has prompted state officials to slaughter elk.

The lawsuit sought to require federal agencies to examine the impacts of winter elk feeding before Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a disease fatal to elk, deer and other wildlife species, invades the western Wyoming feedground complex. CWD is the elk form of mad cow disease. It has been detected in wildlife east and south of some of the targeted feed grounds. The arrival of chronic wasting disease among the crowded feed ground elk would inevitably kill many elk and would taint the feed grounds themselves with the infectious disease material, which persists in the soil even after the elk die.

In response to the case, the U.S. Forest Service did what conservationists asked by preparing an environmental impact statement examining the impacts of feed grounds within the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Based on that action, the appeals court ruled that much of the conservationists' lawsuit was moot.

As to the remaining issues, the appeals court ruled that four feed grounds on land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management were effectively authorized for all time by an old memoranda of understanding agreed to by the BLM and the state of Wyoming such that no new environmental impacts analysis could be required.

"The result of this lawsuit was a mixed bag, but most importantly elk continue to be crowded together on feed grounds each winter in western Wyoming," said Earthjustice lawyer Tim Preso, who represented conservation groups in the suit. "We will continue to pursue reform of the feed ground system in order to avoid subjecting Yellowstone's prized elk to a chronic wasting disease disaster."

Earthjustice represented the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, and Wyoming Outdoor Council in this case.

Contact: Tim Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699

Do Elk Feedgrounds Violate Public Trust? March 22, 2010 · 1 Comment Do Elk Feedgrounds Violate Public Trust?. – Great article from written by Deb Donahue

Laramie – How much are big game animals worth to Wyoming? A judge recently ordered a hunter to pay $6000 restitution for killing a bull elk and leaving it to waste.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department offers $5000 for information leading to the arrest of persons poaching moose or elk. A Wyoming game warden, describing an incident last fall involving three elk, stated: “Poachers stole these animals from hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike. This is an unbelievable loss to the wildlife resource and all law-abiding citizens.”

If the animals are killed by the state, however, it’s a different story. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a growing threat to Wyoming’s elk, deer and moose. Yet the Game and Fish insists on maintaining elk feedgrounds, which provide ideal conditions for incubation and spread of CWD, brucellosis and a host of other transmissible diseases. When CWD reaches the feedgrounds (indeed, it might already be there), thousands of elk, as well as deer and moose, will die, and habitat will be contaminated indefinitely. [see "Close Elk Feedgrounds Before It’s Too Late") Experts agree that while CWD cannot be eradicated, it is possible to slow and perhaps interrupt its spread. (Sigurdson 2008). Among their top recommendations: reduce cervid density by banning supplemental feeding. (Peterson 2005). Even so, Game and Fish has no intention of shutting down its 22 elk feedgrounds. In fact, it has asked the U.S. Forest Service to renew the "special use permits" for feedgrounds on forest lands. In turn, the Forest Service has prepared an environmental impact statement, in which it concedes the risk but disclaims any authority to prevent elk feeding. (USDA 2008: 22-23) Game and Fish approaches CWD as if it were hypothetical, not a looming crisis. Its latest report on feedgrounds notes the "concern" that "feedgrounds may mimic the circumstances of elk in captivity and ... result in high CWD prevalence resulting in drastic population declines as implicated by the disease models." Incredibly, the agency then asserts: "Although this may happen, a perfectly acceptable alternative hypothesis is that CWD will have little or no impact on elk populations based on the known low prevalence rates for CWD in wild elk." (Game and Fish 2004: 11) As trustee for Wyoming’s wildlife, Game and Fish’s management should be precautionary, not hypothetical, certainly not experimental.

Game and Fish calls feedgrounds "a complex biological, social, economic and political issue." (WGFD 2005: 5). Contributors to The Elk of North America wrote: "Sociopolitical considerations rather than principles of balanced resource management dictate the need for [supplemental feeding].” (Robbins et al. 1982) In fact, feedgrounds are a concession to political pressure from the livestock industry. Let’s call a spade a spade.

No law requires supplemental feeding of elk. The question is, does the law allow feedgrounds? Game and Fish and the federal agencies have broad discretion to carry out their missions. But that discretion is not unlimited.

The legislature has declared that it is state policy “to provide an adequate and flexible system for control, propagation, management, protection and regulation of all Wyoming wildlife. (Wyo. Stat. 23-1-103) One suspects that Game and Fish considers feedgrounds an exercise of “flexible” management. “Adequate” protection for elk is plainly a secondary priority.

According to the Wyoming Supreme Court, elk have “been entrusted to the care of the State by the people … and must be carefully tended in order to be preserved.” (O’Brien v. State, 711 P.2d 1144, 1986), quoting Baldwin v. Fish and Game Commission of Montana, 436 U.S. 371, 1978) In one case the State’s “duty to preserve, protect, and nurture the wild game” led the court to strike down a statute that caused overhunting and “serious depletion of deer.” The court ruled that the State must employ means that are “reasonable and … appropriate for the accomplishment of this duty to protect and nurture the game.” (Shakel v. State, 513 P.2d 412 (1973))

Nevertheless, Game and Fish argues that feedgrounds are needed to protect ranchers’ livestock from wildlife diseases. But Game and Fish has no legislative mandate to protect domestic stock – from diseases found in wildlife or otherwise. The Wyoming Constitution directs the legislature to “pass all necessary laws to provide for the protection of livestock against … infectious or contagious diseases.” (Article 19, § 1). The legislature responded by enacting Wyo. Stat. §§ 11-19-101 through 506, which authorize the State to pay for any diseased stock the state vet sends to slaughter. The State also assumes some liability for damage caused by big game to livestock, land, crops, and improvements. (Wyo. Stat. § 23-1-901) But the Wyoming Supreme Court rejected a livestock producer’s argument that this law provides compensation for livestock losses allegedly attributable to wildlife-carried disease. (Parker Land & Cattle Co. v. State, 845 P.2d 1040, 1993).Maintaining elk feedgrounds, given the perils of CWD, simply can’t be reconciled with Game and Fish’s wildlife trust duties.

State-operated feedgrounds are also unlawful as a matter of federal law, whether located on national forests or other lands.

The Forest Service reasons that Wyoming’s “jurisdiction over state wildlife” deprives the Forest Service of any authority to regulate elk feeding. (USDA 2008) Thus, even if feeding were disallowed in national forests, the State could just establish feedgrounds elsewhere. (About a third of feedgrounds are on private or other federal lands.) This reasoning allowed the Forest Service to shrug off as “unavoidable” all adverse environmental effects of feedgrounds.

The Forest Service is badly mistaken.

States do possess “broad trustee and police powers over wild animals,” but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal power over the public lands under the Property Clause “necessarily includes the power to regulate and protect the wildlife living there.” (Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529, 1976). Exercise of this power in statutes or valid federal regulations “overrides conflicting state laws.” (Kleppe) Federal powers and duties with respect to national forests can be traced to several statutes and regulations. Beginning in 1915, Congress authorized the Forest Service to permit national forests to be used for various purposes. A state may be allowed to use areas “not exceeding eighty acres and for periods not exceeding thirty years” to maintain facilities necessary or desirable for “any public use.” Exercise of this “special use” authority may not “preclude the general public from full enjoyment of the natural, scenic, recreational, and other aspects of the national forests.” (16 U.S.C § 497(d)) Regulations require permitted uses to satisfy several prerequisites, to be revocable, and to “minimize damage to … fish and wildlife habitat.” (36 C.F.R. part 251) In 1960 and again in 1976, Congress directed the Forest Service to manage forest resources in the “combination that will best meet the needs of the American people”; to “consider the relative values of the various resources in particular areas”; and to avoid “impairing the productivity of the lands.” (16 U.S.C. §§ 529, 531, 1604) Another 1976 statute authorizes the Forest Service as well as the BLM to regulate or close areas to hunting “for reasons of public safety, administration, or compliance with … applicable law.” In “emergencies” the agencies may exercise this power without first consulting the state. (43 U.S.C. § 1732(b)) Allowing feedgrounds, and thus inviting a CWD outbreak, on national forest lands arguably violates these requirements in several ways.

Western Wyoming’s elk populations are world renowned and crucial to the valuable hunting and tourism sectors. Cattle and sheep, on the other hand, are among the planet’s most abundant commodities. Yet, the Forest Service, like the State, has implicitly chosen to manage for livestock rather than wildlife. Contrary to law, the Forest Service has ignored the relative values of these resources, the impact of a CWD eruption on the productivity of the lands, and the needs of the American people. The Forest Service has not explained how feedgrounds qualify under the special use permit regulations as a “public use” or “in the public interest.” Nor can it ensure that feedgrounds will not pose a future public health or safety risk or interfere with other uses of the lands. Contaminating the soil with prions seems analogous to disposing solid waste or hazardous substances, which the regulations explicitly prohibit. Despite the requirement to “minimize” habitat impacts, feedgrounds will harm soils, vegetation, wildlife, water quality, and riparian areas, and increase disease and parasite transmission. (USDA 2008: 87).

Long-term, possibly permanent, contamination of feedground soils would effectively violate both the 30-year term limit and the requirement that special use permits be revocable. (Compare Wilderness Society v. Morton, D.C. Circuit [en banc], 479 F.2d 842, D.C. Cir. 1973)Finally, given that Congress empowered the Forest Service to forbid hunting—a quintessentially traditional state prerogative—there can be no doubt that the agency can forbid other activities that would interfere with its management of public lands.

But is the Forest Service helpless to prevent the State from feeding on private or state lands?Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Camfield v. U.S. (167 U.S. 518, 1897), it has become well established that the United States has “power to regulate conduct on non-federal land when reasonably necessary to protect adjacent federal property.” (U.S. v. Lindsey, 595 F.2d 5, 9th Cir. 1979). Relying on Camfield, Judge Clarence Brimmer ordered a rancher to remove or lay down portions of a fence on private land near Rawlins because it prevented pronghorn from reaching critical public-land winter range, in violation of an 1885 law. (U.S. v. Lawrence, 848 F.2d 1502, 1988). Other cases have upheld penalties for building campfires or using motor vehicles on nonfederal lands, where those uses threatened national forests or wilderness. (U.S. v. Alford, 274 U.S. 264, 1927; Minnesota v. Block, 660 F.2d 1240, 8th Cir. 1982).

The Forest Service may not dodge its duty. Congress charged it with making “the most judicious use of the land.” (16 U.S.C. § 531) Turning a blind eye to the scourge of CWD is indefensible.

Litigation is generally an ineffective way to manage wildlife. But litigation over the feedgrounds seems inevitable, and it may be the only way to ensure that western Wyoming’s wildlife get a fair shake.


Markus J. Peterson, Chronic Wasting Disease and the Greater Yellowstone Area, 2005, at

Christina J. Sigurdson, A prion disease of cervids: chronic wasting disease, Vet. Research 39 (2008): 41.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan (2005), at:

Ron Dean et al. [Wyoming Game and Fish Department], Elk Feedgrounds in Wyoming, Aug. 30, 2004,


U.S. Geological Survey, Disease Costs and Consequences (Actual and Potential) of CWD in Deer and Elk,


USDA-Forest Service, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Long Term Special Use Authorization for Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to Use National Forest System Land for their Winter Elk Management Programs,


USDA-Forest Service, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Long Term Special Use Authorization for Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to Use National Forest System Land for their Winter Elk Management Programs, at



jimmy crack corn and nobody cares?

NOT only congregating deer together over bait piles is a risk factor for spreading CWD via horizontal transmission and environmental factors of contamination via feces, urine, and saliva, but so is feeding cervids cracked corn that has been potentially cross contaminated with ruminant feed and is prohibited from being fed to ruminants. this happens, it's real, and transmission studies do not lie. ...TSS

JUST a few examples of why feeding deer and elk a simple bag of corn could be spreading CWD via feed with mammalian/ruminant ingredients.



Brian J. Raymond, Owner Sandy Lake Mills 26 Mill Street P.O. Box 117 Sandy Lake, PA 16145


Tel: 215-597-4390

Dear Mr. Raymond:Food and Drug Administration Investigator Gregory E. Beichner conducted an inspection of your animal feed manufacturing operation, located in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, on March 23,2001, and determined that your firm manufactures animal feeds including feeds containing prohibited materials. The inspection found significant deviations from the requirements set forth in Title 21, code of Federal Regulations, part 589.2000 - Animal Proteins Prohibited in Ruminant Feed. The regulation is intended to prevent the establishment and amplification of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) . Such deviations cause products being manufactured at this facility to be misbranded within the meaning of Section 403(f), of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act).Our investigation found failure to label your swine feed with the required cautionary statement "Do Not Feed to cattleor other Ruminants" The FDA suggests that the statement be distinguished by different type-size or color or other means of highlighting the statement so that it is easily noticed by a purchaser.

In addition, we note that you are using approximately 140 pounds of cracked corn to flush your mixer used in the manufacture of animal feeds containing prohibited material. This flushed material is fed to wild game including deer, a ruminant animal. Feed material which may potentially contain prohibited material should not be fed to ruminant animals which may become part of the food chain.The above is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of deviations fromthe regulations. As a manufacturer of materials intended for animalfeed use, you are responsible for assuring that your overall operation and the products you manufacture and distribute are in compliance withthe law. We have enclosed a copy of FDA's Small Entity Compliance Guideto assist you with complying with the regulation... blah, blah, blah...

snip...end...full text ;

2003D-0186 Guidance for Industry: Use of Material From Deer and Elk In Animal Feed

EMC 1 Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Vol #: 1

see my full text submission here ;

Subject: MAD COW FEED RECALL AL AND FL VOLUME OF PRODUCT IN COMMERCE 125 TONS Products manufactured from 02/01/2005 until 06/06/2006

Date: August 6, 2006 at 6:16 pm PST

PRODUCT a) CO-OP 32% Sinking Catfish, Recall # V-100-6; Performance Sheep Pell W/Decox/A/N, medicated, net wt. 50 lbs, Recall # V-101-6; c) Pro 40% Swine Conc Meal -- 50 lb, Recall # V-102-6; d) CO-OP 32% Sinking Catfish Food Medicated,

Recall # V-103-6; e) "Big Jim's" BBB Deer Ration, Big Buck Blend,

Recall # V-104-6; f) CO-OP 40% Hog Supplement Medicated Pelleted, Tylosin 100 grams/ton, 50 lb. bag, Recall # V-105-6; g) Pig Starter Pell II, 18% W/MCDX Medicated 282020, Carbadox -- 0.0055%, Recall # V-106-6; h) CO-OP STARTER-GROWER CRUMBLES, Complete Feed for Chickens from Hatch to 20 Weeks, Medicated, Bacitracin Methylene Disalicylate, 25 and 50 Lbs, Recall # V-107-6; i) CO-OP LAYING PELLETS, Complete Feed for Laying Chickens, Recall # 108-6; j) CO-OP LAYING CRUMBLES, Recall # V-109-6; k) CO-OP QUAIL FLIGHT CONDITIONER MEDICATED, net wt 50 Lbs, Recall # V-110-6; l) CO-OP QUAIL STARTER MEDICATED, Net Wt. 50 Lbs, Recall # V-111-6; m) CO-OP QUAIL GROWER MEDICATED, 50 Lbs, Recall # V-112-6 CODE Product manufactured from 02/01/2005 until 06/06/2006 RECALLING FIRM/MANUFACTURER Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc., Decatur, AL, by telephone, fax, email and visit on June 9, 2006. FDA initiated recall is complete.

REASON Animal and fish feeds which were possibly contaminated with ruminant based protein not labeled as "Do not feed to ruminants".





Susceptibility of Cattle to First-passage Intracerebral Inoculation with Chronic Wasting Disease Agent from White-tailed Deer

A. N. Hamir1, J. M. Miller1, R. A. Kunkle1, S. M. Hall2 and J. A. Richt1 + Author Affiliations

1National Animal Disease Center, ARS, USDA, Ames, IA 2Pathobiology Laboratory, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Ames, IA Dr. A. N. Hamir, National Animal Disease Center, ARS, USDA, 2300 Dayton Avenue, PO Box 70, Ames, IA 50010 (USA). E-mail: Abstract Fourteen, 3-month-old calves were intracerebrally inoculated with the agent of chronic wasting disease (CWD) from white-tailed deer (CWDwtd) to compare the clinical signs and neuropathologic findings with those of certain other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE, prion diseases) that have been shown to be experimentally transmissible to cattle (sheep scrapie, CWD of mule deer [CWDmd], bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE], and transmissible mink encephalopathy). Two uninoculated calves served as controls. Within 26 months postinoculation (MPI), 12 inoculated calves had lost considerable weight and eventually became recumbent. Of the 12 inoculated calves, 11 (92%) developed clinical signs. Although spongiform encephalopathy (SE) was not observed, abnormal prion protein (PrPd) was detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blot (WB) in central nervous system tissues. The absence of SE with presence of PrPd has also been observed when other TSE agents (scrapie and CWDmd) were similarly inoculated into cattle. The IHC and WB findings suggest that the diagnostic techniques currently used to confirm BSE would detect CWDwtd in cattle, should it occur naturally. Also, the absence of SE and a distinctive IHC pattern of CWDwtd and CWDmd in cattle suggests that it should be possible to distinguish these conditions from other TSEs that have been experimentally transmitted to cattle.

second passage is even worse ;

Experimental Second Passage of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWDmule deer) Agent to Cattle

A. N. Hamir, R. A. Kunkle, J. M. Miller, J. J. Greenlee and J. A. Richt Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, National Animal Disease Center, 2300 Dayton Avenue, P.O. Box 70, Ames, IA 50010, USA


To compare clinicopathological findings in first and second passage chronic wasting disease (CWDmule deer) in cattle, six calves were inoculated intracerebrally with brain tissue derived froma first-passageCWD-affected calf in an earlier experiment. Two uninoculated calves served as controls. The inoculated animals began to lose both appetite and weight 10–12 months later, and five subsequently developed clinical signs of central nervous system (CNS) abnormality. By 16.5 months, all cattle had been subjected to euthanasia because of poor prognosis. None of the animals showed microscopical lesions of spongiform encephalopathy (SE) but PrPres was detected in their CNS tissues by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and rapid Western blot (WB) techniques. Thus, intracerebrally inoculated cattle not only amplified CWD PrPres from mule deer but also developed clinicalCNSsigns in the absence of SElesions.This situation has also been shown to occur in cattle inoculated with the scrapie agent. The study confirmed that the diagnostic techniques currently used for diagnosis of bovine spongiformencephalopathy (BSE) in theUS would detect CWDin cattle, should it occur naturally. Furthermore, it raised the possibility of distinguishing CWDfromBSE in cattle, due to the absence of neuropathological lesions and to a distinctive multifocal distribution of PrPres, as demonstrated by IHC which, in this study, appeared to be more sensitive than the WB technique. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Keywords: cattle; chronic wasting disease (CWD); deer; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)


Discussion CWD, like all other TSEs, is characterized by a long incubation period, which in deer is seldom less than 18 months (Williams and Young, 1992). In an experimental study of cattle inoculated intracerebrally with CWD from mule deer (first passage), amplification of PrPres was demonstrated in only five of 13 (38%) cattle, after incubation periods that ranged from 23 to 63 months (Hamir et al., 2001a, 2005a). In contrast, all inoculated cattle in the present study were positive for PrPres within 16.5 months. This increased attack rate with shorter incubation periods probably indicates adaptation of the CWDmule deer agent to a new host.


The uniform susceptibility, relatively short incubation, and absence of microscopical lesions in cattle given CWD brain material passaged once through cattle resembled findings in cattle inoculated intracerebrally with the scrapie agent (Cutlip et al., 1997). In that experiment, 100% of cattle died 14–18 months after inoculation with material from the first cattle-passage of a US strain of the scrapie agent; none showed microscopical lesions and all were positive for PrPres.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prion Strain Mutation Determined by Prion Protein Conformational Compatibility and Primary Structure

Published Online May 13, 2010 Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1187107 Science Express Index

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Prion Strain Mutation and Selection John Collinge


Frequently Asked Questions

Lower Peninsula Bait and Feed Ban

November 2008 (edited August 2009)

What is the deer bait and feed ban?

Baiting and feeding has been banned for a number of years in Alpena, Alcona, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego, and Presque Isle due to the outbreak of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in wild white-tailed deer. Because of the confirmation of a deer with chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a privately owned deer in Kent County in 2008, the ban was extended to the entire Lower Peninsula, under the authority of Section 40 108, 1994 PA 45 1, as amended, being MCL 324.40 108 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. The ban applies equally to feeding for recreational viewing as well as hunting.

An NRC action on October 10, 2008 made the ban permanent. What is considered bait?

According to state law, “bait” for deer is “a substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruit, vegetables, hay or any other food material, whether natural or manufactured, may lure, entice or attract deer.”

Is this ban still necessary?

Yes. Biologists have long known that disease is easily spread among animals that are drawn into close physical proximity by feed. Although the exact means of transmission of chronic wasting disease is not known; most scientists believe any exchange of bodily fluids -- saliva, urine, and feces – facilitates transmission. One year of testing without finding a CWD positive deer does not mean or ensure the disease is not present. Preventing the spread of the disease if it is in the wild herd is of paramount importance. The protection of a healthy white-tailed deer population in

Michigan is important for the following reasons:

• Any regional threat to a healthy deer population is a statewide concern.

• Chronic wasting disease can spread through the deer herd.

• Without appropriate management within the current CWD surveillance zone, the disease may spread to other areas of the state.

• All deer infected with CWD die from the disease.

• White-tailed deer are native to Michigan and it is important to preserve our native wildlife.

• A healthy deer herd is important for hunting traditions. Michigan has more than 725,000 deer hunters who have harvested an average of 450,000 deer annually during the past decade. Deer hunting contributes more than 10 million days of recreation every year.

• Deer hunting annually generates more than $500 million dollars impact to the state’s economy. A healthy deer herd is critical to the state's economy. Isn’t restricting baiting in the entire Lower Peninsula too extreme? No. The state of Michigan adopted a policy, which was developed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, six years ago designed to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease in the event it was detected in a deer or elk within the state or within 50 miles of the state’s border. The policy calls for the immediate end to baiting and feeding within the entire peninsula in which the infected animal was detected.

• One year of testing without finding a CWD positive deer does not mean or ensure the disease is not present. Surveillance programs, not just for CWD but for any wildlife disease cannot guarantee the discovery of all cases of disease. The CWD plan calls for three years of testing and that is what will be done. The situation will be re-evaluated after that testing.

• Contagious diseases will continue to be threats to the free-ranging deer and elk herd. This is due to many factors; such as:

o The nation-wide illegal movement of live deer and elk, and carcasses,

o Feeding and baiting of cervids,

o Globalization that has brought a host of foreign species and diseases to Michigan.

o The inability of surveillance efforts to detect all disease occurrences.

• For CWD in particular, the seriousness of the disease:

o There is no evidence of genetic resistance to CWD in white-tailed deer.

o There are no proven treatments or vaccines for prion diseases and all infections are believed fatal.

o Acquiring CWD in wildlife would be disastrous, not only in regard to the health of the wild white-tailed deer and elk in Michigan, but financially for the State. In Wisconsin, the DNR has spent over $35 million since 2002 in its CWD surveillance, management, and eradication efforts. Funding in Wisconsin has come primarily from hunting license revenue, with minimal outside funding. This has required the Department to redirect wildlife program staff and program dollars to maintain the emphasis on CWD management and control.

o The National CWD Management Plan recommends the elimination of baiting and feeding of deer as a control strategy for containing and eradicating CWD. "Our primary goal is to protect the health of our wild white-tailed deer and elk populations. Stopping CWD and other diseases from becoming established in our wild deer and elk is our top priority." - Director Becky Humphries. This is why it is important to maintain vigilance and preventative measures such as not allowing feeding or baiting of cervids.

How does this ban affect bear baiting?

Bear hunters may use fish or fish products, meat or meat products or bakery products to bait bears. However, no substance defined by law (see question above “what is considered bait”) as bait for deer may be used in the Lower Peninsula. How long will the ban be in effect?

On October 10, 2008, an NRC action made the ban permanent.

Can I still feed turkeys?

It is legal to feed turkeys; however, people feeding turkeys must make every effort to prevent deer from gaining access the site. Elevated feeding platforms, for instance, would not be legal if spilled grain from the platform was accessible to deer. How about hunting over food plots or agricultural fields?

It is legal to hunt over standing crops or food plots.

May I use attractant scents?

Yes. Scent products are not considered bait unless they are designed for deer to ingest or lick, in which case they would be illegal.

What if I discover someone else baiting?

Call our RAP (Report All Poaching) Line at 1-800-292-7800 and report any illegal activity.

Is it illegal to sell bait?

No. The DNR does not regulate the selling of agricultural products.

What’s the fine if I’m caught baiting?

The fine for illegal bating is anywhere from $50 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

For more information:

Controlling CWD in Wisconsin: a Progress Report, Wisconsin DNR, PUB-CE-461 2005 Deer Baiting Issues in Michigan, MDNR, Wildlife Div. Issue Paper 5, Feb. 26, 1999 Deer and Elk Feeding Issues in Michigan, MDNR Wildlife Div. Briefing Paper, Mar. 9, 1999 Contact Information: Stephen M. Schmitt, D.V.M. 517-336-5030 or Supervisor of the Wildlife Health Section Wildlife Disease Laboratory 4125 Beaumont Rd. Rm. 250, Lansing, MI 48910 Bovine TB website: CWD website:

MUCC’s Response To CWD In Michigan Posted by MikeAdams on August 28, 2008

MUCC or the Michigan United Conservation Club of which I’m a member has issued their statement regarding the CWD incident in Michigan’s Kent County.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, August 26, 2008 MUCC Calls for Hunter Cooperation on CWD Crisis LANSING, MICH – One of Michigan’s greatest fears has been realized. On Monday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (DOA) confirmed that a captive white-tailed deer has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a deadly neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), Michigan’s largest and oldest conservation organization, began an immediate investigation after the tragic announcement late yesterday. MUCC members who establish the organization’s policy positions have previously adopted resolutions supporting the fair and equitable phasing-out of captive cervid facilities in addition to a statewide baiting ban, positions also supported by the DNR. MUCC policy points to preventative disease control in wildlife populations at the focal point of the baiting/cervid farm debate. “The discovery of a CWD-positive deer in Michigan is not a warning shot across our bow, it is a direct hit that could be a potentially lethal blow to this state’s proud hunting heritage and our state economy,” said MUCC President Bill Krepps. Krepps commended the DNR for initial response efforts but remained cautiously concerned about the positive identification of CWD in Michigan. “CWD is a hazardous threat that hunters must take seriously – diseases are scary and dangerous things. But instead of reacting negatively, now is the time to work together to insulate our deer heard from further spread of this horrible disease. In order to protect our current and future hunting heritage, Michigan hunters must stop baiting and feeding deer to prevent CWD and other diseases from not only infecting other animals, but to ensure a proper long-term scientific management of our herd.” The DNR’s early response included immediate activation of its CWD contingency plan, which includes a ban on baiting and feeding of deer and elk in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, a ban on transportation of deer and a quarantine of captive cervid facilities. Additionally, hunters who harvest deer in the department’s surveillance “hot zone” in the Kent County townships of Tyrone, Solon, Nelson, Sparta, Algoma, Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon will be required to participate in a deer check.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that cannot be detected with live animal tests. As such, the department will also kill and test 300 deer within the “hot zone.” According to the DNR, the response plan is designed to prevent potential spread of the disease. (Click here to download the DNR response plan for CWD or visit In the meantime, MUCC scheduled an emergency meeting with DNR Director Becky Humphries and Michigan’s Conservation Coalition for late Tuesday afternoon to discuss implications of the CWD discovery and address forward action to minimize or prevent its spread. Michigan’s Conservation Coalition is an alliance of sportsmen groups that are unified to protect five priority areas of the hunting, fishing, trapping, and conservation community: Sportsmen’s Heritage, Long Term Funding, Habitat and Access, Hunter/Angler Recruitment and Retention, and the Prevention of Invasive Species. Deer hunting is big business in Michigan where an estimated $500 million is generated each year by the state’s firearms deer season which runs from Nov. 15-30. The state is home to nearly one million deer hunters and has a proud hunting tradition that spans over a century. However, if CWD were to find its way into the state’s wild deer populations, that heritage and revenue could be in serious jeopardy.

The impact of CWD and eradication efforts on the state’s economy and hunting traditions could be immense. Neighboring Wisconsin, where CWD was discovered in a wild white-tailed deer in 2002, has contributed to a 10 percent decrease in hunting license sales, and efforts to eradicate deer from the Wisconsin CWD area have fallen woefully short. Worse yet, a deep wedge has been driven between the hunting community and wildlife managers over the handling of the disease. Who will pay the price if CWD spreads beyond game fences into our wild herds? Sportsmen and Sportswomen. In Wisconsin, roughly $32 million was spent in 2005 to combat CWD, $26.8 million of which came from the state’s DNR – monies generated directly from license fees that sportsmen and sportswomen pay, which is diverted from wildlife management. “This is a very serious disease with serious implications,” said MUCC Executive Director Muchmore. “We must do what we can now and hope we haven’t missed the opportunity to minimize the effect that CWD can have on our wildlife population due to these cervid farms. MUCC is remaining cautiously optimistic that the steps being taken will hold this disease in check, but in the meantime we’re keeping a keen eye on the management of this crisis to ensure the smallest possible impact on our treasured natural resources.” ### Contact: Dave Nyberg, Resource Policy Specialist (517) 346-6462 Amy Spray, Resource Policy Specialist (517) 346-6484 About MUCC Michigan United Conservation Clubs has been Michigan’s first voice for Michigan’s out-of-doors since 1937. With over 45,000 members and 400 affiliated clubs throughout the state, MUCC’s primary objective is Uniting Citizens to Conserve, Protect, and Enhance Michigan’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Heritage.

With all the activity on the CWD issue, we must remember that this was in a captive deer on a private ranch. It was NOT in a wild Whitetail Deer. We must remember that. I am still trying to get my hands around this situation. It is an emotional and spirited debate. Whether you bait or not, this effects YOU! The face of deer hunting in Michigan as we know it has changed OVER NIGHT! Whether we like it or not, we all have to confront this problem and do what it takes to help erradicate it. So instead of complaining or pointing fingers, lets all get on board and do our part!

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 28th,

Risk of CWD Transmission Associated with Supplemental Feeding and Baiting of Free- ranging White-tailed Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease and the Science in support of the Ban on Baiting and Feeding Deer.

Timothy R. Van Deelen Ph.D. Wisconsin DNR Research


Reliable science provides support for a ban of baiting and feeding of white-tailed deer to reduce disease risks for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Peer-reviewed research papers published in reputable scientific journals indicate the following:

Deer can get CWD by ingesting something contaminated with the disease prion

CWD prions may be shed in feces and saliva

Disease course and symptoms indicate high potential for transmission where deer are concentrated

Evidence from captive situations indicates that deer can get CWD from highly contaminated environments.

Baiting and Feeding causes unnatural concentration of deer

Reduction of contact through a ban on baiting and feeding is likely very important to eradicating or containing a CWD outbreak.

Baiting and feeding continues to put Wisconsin's deer herd at risk to other serious diseases

In addition, experts in CWD, wildlife disease and deer nutrition support bans on baiting and feeding as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent and/or manage CWD. Under a baiting and feeding ban, disease outbreaks are more likely to be smaller in scale and more apt to be contained or eliminated. With the long CWD incubation period and other factors that make discovery of a new outbreak difficult, an outbreak that is already widespread when detected because of baiting and feeding may not be able to be contained or eliminated. This document provides details and explicit links to the supporting science. Chronic Wasting Disease and the Science behind the Ban on Baiting and Feeding Deer.

2. Chronic wasting disease in deer – In Fort Collins, Colorado, artificial feeding by private citizens is believed to have contributed to the infection of 49 free-ranging cervids with chronic wasting disease (CWD) (Spraker et al., 1997). Experimental and circumstantial evidence suggests infected animals probably transmit the disease through animal-to-animal contact, and through contamination of food or water sources with body fluids (saliva, urine) and feces (Williams and Young, 1980; Miller et al., 1998). Further, conditions of high animal density or confinement can create conditions where transmission of CWD occurs at a faster rate than under natural conditions (Fig. 6) (Miller et al., 2000). Several government agencies in Canada (Appendix A – see and the United States (Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 2002 – see,1607,7-153-10370_12150-29070--,00.html; Wisconsin Review of the ecological and human social effects of artificial feeding and baiting of wildlife 15 Department of Natural Resources, 2002 – see; New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 2003 – see have recently changed their regulations regarding artificial feeding and baiting in an effort to prevent or reduce infection of wild cervids with CWD.

Concerns associated with baiting and feeding have grown

Bait is any material that is placed or used to attract wild animals, including scent materials, salt, minerals, grains, etc. WDNR Photo Concerns associated with baiting and feeding have grown in recent years. Scientific studies have concluded that the deadly disease in deer, chronic wasting disease or CWD, can be spread between deer through saliva and at contaminated sites such as baiting and feeding locations. Research conducted at Sandhill Wildlife Area concluded that even with limiting the quantity of bait placed, the potential for disease transmission continues.

DNR wildlife health officials say both CWD and Tuberculosis (TB) are transmitted through deer to deer contact and concentrations of deer at bait and feeding stations are likely to promote the transmission of infectious agents. CWD is also transmitted through exposure to a contaminated environment and TB is transmissible from contaminated food and feed sites.

“Baiting and feeding cause unnatural concentrations of deer and their activity increasing the risk of disease infection and spread,” says Dr. Sarah Hurley, DNR veterinarian and land program manager. “Repeated use of feeding and baiting areas poses a long term risk of disease transmission.”

Baiting and feeding also likely contribute to the extraordinary high deer populations of recent years, according to Keith Warnke, DNR big game specialist.

Wisconsin’s deer heard is now estimated to be between 1.5 and 1.7 million animals.

“Baiting and feeding are likely supporting a higher winter survival rate and a greater recruitment of fawns in the spring. Unnaturally higher deer numbers result in negative impacts such as more deer/vehicle collisions, more crop damage for farmers, stunted forest regeneration, and more deer browsing, which hurts Wisconsin forestes,” Warnke said.

Baiting and feeding history in Wisconsin Baiting increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, except for counties that have CWD or Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) detected in wild or domestic deer and elk (or cervids as they are known to biologists), and in the adjacent counties, placing 2 gallons of bait or feed per site is legal.

Warnke notes that currently 25 states have a complete ban on baiting for deer hunting, 12 states have partial baiting restrictions (including Wisconsin), and 13 states have no restrictions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023

Baiting and feeding of deer in Wisconsin – Update 2008

Keith Warnke, Bureau of Wildlife Management Chris Jacques, Bureau of Science Services

Executive summary

Since the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin and Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in Michigan and Minnesota, the controversy surrounding baiting and feeding deer in Wisconsin has grown. Although contrasting views on the ethics of baiting and feeding are vigorously debated in the hunting community, recent scientific data regarding the presence and distribution of CWD in Wisconsin, and deer population management needs unequivocally require ending deer baiting and feeding. In the past two years, the case for prohibiting baiting and feeding in Wisconsin has been strengthened by additional research into deer disease transmission and the behavioral responses of deer to the repeated placement of small volumes of food.

CWD and TB are transmitted through deer to deer contact and concentrations of deer are likely to favor the transmission of infectious agents. CWD is also transmitted through exposure to a contaminated environment and TB is transmissible from contaminated food and feed sites (Whipple and Palmer 2000). Baiting and feeding cause unnatural concentrations of deer and their activity likely increasing the risk of disease infection and spread. Repeated use of feeding and baiting areas poses a long term risk of disease transmission.

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I hear that shooting deer over bait is now illegal. Can I use food plots? Can I bait/feed outside of deer season? A Game and Parks regulation passed earlier this year governs hunting over bait. NGPC used its authority over hunting to make it illegal to hunt within 200 yards of an area that has been baited during the past 60 days. Food plots are legal at all times of the year. Baiting and feeding of deer is also legal, but hunting over bait is not legal. Considering the risks associated with baiting and the possibility of spreading CWD and other disease organisms, NGPC believes it prudent that hunters and landowners stop all baiting and feeding of deer and elk. We believe that baiting, mineral blocks, feed piles used by deer all increase the odds of disease transmission. While the method of CWD disease transmission is not known, the best guess is that nose to nose contact increases the risk.

In this story Baiting bears and feeding birds How baiting tempts trouble Trends from the field Growing deer populations rise faster due to baiting and feeding Baiting puts a bigger economy at risk Current baiting and feeding laws Feeding deer for nonhunting purposes Baiting deer for hunting purposes A young hunter finds a promising hunting spot on public land within the Chequamegon National Forest and sets up. Along comes an older hunter who orders the youngster to leave the area because he is too close to the older hunter's bait pile. The older hunter has paid somebody else to bait the site before he arrived. The older hunter tells the younger hunter to compensate him for the money spent to bait the site if he does not leave. The younger hunter contacts his own hunting party who are all upset. They tell the older hunter his actions are wrong. In the older hunter's presence, they contact the local conservation warden via cell phone. The older hunter decides to leave before the warden arrives. The incident causes ill feelings and a negative hunting experience for all, according to the warden who documented this case during the 2006 season.

Baiting and feeding deer has drawn a lot of attention in recent years from the hunting public and resource managers alike. Both practices have the same aim: to attract wildlife to a specific area. Although many people enjoy drawing wildlife closer, the practice has several negative consequences for deer, people and the environment.

Both deer feeding and deer baiting were once legal statewide. Feeding deer was a strong tradition near many of the mom-and-pop Northwoods resorts and restaurants to delight customers who could watch deer out the windows as both patrons and whitetails dined. Baiting for deer hunting started to pick up in the mid to late 1980s to draw deer near established stands.

After the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Wisconsin in late February 2002, the DNR implemented a statewide ban on baiting and feeding deer. Months later in 2003, the State Legislature redefined the Department of Natural Resources' authority to regulate baiting and feeding. Lawmakers lifted the baiting ban in much of the state, but required that feeding and baiting bans continue in counties where a positive case of CWD or bovine tuberculosis (TB) was found in a wild or captive animal, plus adjacent counties within a 10-mile radius of a confirmed positive case. Currently, deer feeding and baiting is banned in 26 counties. In 2004-2005, a law that had limited deer baiting to 10 gallons per site was lowered to a two-gallon limit in counties where baiting and feeding was still allowed. Thereafter, a complex series of detailed rules and laws distinguished "baiting" for hunting purposes from recreational "feeding" by those who just want to watch deer.

States across the nation take different stances on baiting for hunting deer. The practice is currently banned in 25 states; 12 states, including Wisconsin, have partial restrictions; and 13 states have no restrictions. Our neighboring states of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois all have statewide bans on baiting deer for hunting, and Michigan has a more restrictive position banning both baiting and feeding deer throughout the Lower Peninsula after recently discovering CWD in a captive deer farm.

National attitudes and restrictions on wildlife feeding for nonhunting purposes are more lax.

Not all forms of artificial feeding are restricted. Hunting over food plots or unharvested portions of agricultural fields are not legally defined as baiting or feeding. Some argue this is no different than hunting over bait, but there is one big difference: baiting and feeding concentrate deer on a food source within a much smaller area, while planted plots and farm fields spread the food source over a larger landscape.

The concerns are that food piles cause deer to artificially concentrate within a small area where they are much more likely to salivate on the food or come into contact with feces, urine or other bodily fluids as deer feed. Several scientific studies have shown clear evidence that such exchanges increase the risk of transmitting diseases such as CWD or TB.

In nature, wild deer occasionally make direct and indirect contacts with fluids from other deer within their family groups. However, the frequency of these contacts among unrelated deer is much greater at bait or feed piles, which is why deer baiting and feeding is banned in counties where CWD or TB have been detected in wild and captive deer and elk herds. The bans typically extend to adjacent counties in an effort to reduce the potential of spreading these contagious diseases. TB has been detected in Michigan and Minnesota. Pockets of CWD infections in wild deer have been found in several states including northern Illinois and wider areas of southern Wisconsin.

This is an illegal bait pile far exceeding legal limits where baiting is permitted. © DNR Law Enforcement The risk of further spread led DNR Secretary Matt Frank to ask deer hunters and recreational deer feeders to refrain from baiting and feeding deer in 2008. "While [these practices are] currently legal in areas outside of the CWD zone, we asked all hunters and citizens last year to refrain from baiting and feeding deer. It's a cost-effective way to substantially reduce the risks of spreading disease in Wisconsin's deer herd."

Sixteen groups including the Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF), the Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Wisconsin County Forest Association also support a statewide moratorium on the practice during the fall and winter hunting seasons.

"We've been mainly focusing on animal health issues," says George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, in explaining his organization's call for statewide bans on deer baiting and feeding since April 2007."

"This is serious business and has cost Michigan, Minnesota and their farmers millions of dollars," Meyer says. "When some hunters' preferences for baiting cause potential financial damage to their neighbors, the whole equation changes," Meyer says.

"Baiting and feeding of deer threatens not only the health of our deer population, but our dairy and forestry industries as well, increasing the risk of TB being transferred from deer to dairy cows," adds Secretary Frank. "And an artificially high deer population threatens natural regeneration of our forests with potential [consequences] for our forest and wood products economy," Frank says.

Baiting bears and feeding birds Wisconsin also allows baiting of black bears for hunting purposes, provided baiters and hunters adhere to conditions in regulations and permits. Bear baits must be concealed in hollow logs or holes with covers that prevent access by deer or other wildlife. To date, no one is aware of disease transmission between bears at such sites. The practice of baiting for bear hunting is considered effective and necessary.

Other wildlife species also are fed. Thousands of people put up feeders in hopes of attracting songbirds and small mammals, like squirrels, within viewing distance of their windows. However, if a food source such as a bird feeder is being visited by deer in a county where feeding is banned, the feeder must be raised or placed out of the reach of deer.

How baiting tempts trouble Illegal use of deer bait has been the most frequent violation of state wildlife conservation laws for the last five years and has increased each year, according to DNR law enforcement reports. However, in 17 of the 19 counties of south central and southeastern Wisconsin where baiting and feeding are illegal, such citations are significantly less common – fewer than 11 percent of the statewide total, even though these are the most populous Wisconsin counties.

Though many people believe that more deer will be harvested when baited, Wisconsin surveys from the 1990s show that overall hunting harvest rates are very similar between baiters and non-baiters during the gun season. Deer hunting harvest rates are only slightly greater for archers who bait compared to those who don't. But baiting and feeding clearly change deer habits and behavior. Hunters who don't bait often report seeing fewer deer once their neighbors begin to bait. It's a vicious cycle that spreads discontent. According to warden reports, many hunters who are cited for illegal use of bait claim they only started the practice to compete for animals when neighboring properties started baiting.

Marlin Laidlaw, who serves on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress' Big Game Study Committee, recalls speaking with some hunters who had baited heavily on lands they owned in Buffalo County.

"When the moratorium on baiting and feeding was passed in 2002, they were very unhappy," Laidlaw says. "After that season I saw them again and this was their response: 'We will never bait again. We saw twice as many deer and bigger bucks as when we baited.' They continue to keep that promise and haven't baited since," Laidlaw says. They clearly suggest that deer movements increased between properties during hunting hours because of the baiting ban.

When deer are being fed by humans, the animals tend to restrict their home range because they do not have to spend as much time searching for food. Deer that are fed on one parcel become less mobile and are less likely to travel while searching for food.

Baiting and feeding also promote nocturnal activity by deer. Deer that do not have to spend as much time and energy searching for food will often restrict their movements to nighttime. This is why many hunters find signs that deer ate from their baited sites overnight and are less frequently seen during shooting hours. Wade Jeske, hunter educator and archery safety instructor from Oconto Falls agrees. "It's a matter of numbers," he says. "Why would a deer spend 18 hours a day browsing when in 18 minutes under cover of darkness it can eat as many calories from a corn pile? You've just got less time to interact with that animal during legal hunting hours," Jeske adds.

Some people have been caught violating hunting laws in several ways – shining deer at night from their cabins, using feeding stations as a bait pile, and firing shots from the dwelling after hunting hours.

More and more hunters believe baiting violates the fair chase ethic and detracts from the traditional values of deer hunting. Others say they bait because they have less time to scout for deer sign walking around their woods.

Peter Mancl has hunted Buffalo County for about 30 years. He does not bait, but has noticed this increasing trend in Buffalo County. "Bottom line & scouting hunting land for deer sign and stand locations is as much fun as the hunting part, especially if your decision on where to place your stand proves fruitful. To me, that determines the skill of a hunter," he says.

Jim Richardson of Merrill has noted many changes in hunting rules and traditions over the years; both good and bad. "I'm sure that many will argue about the amount of time spent learning the deer's patterns is unchanged, but when you throw out a bucket of feed, your intent is to change the habits of wildlife to your advantage," Richardson says. "What appears to be happening, however, is a change that affects more than just you. It affects those people hunting around you as well, and that creates another issue altogether.

Active hunters are ahead of their elected representatives in advocating that it's time to reinstate state bans of baiting and feeding. Last spring when the Conservation Congress advisory hearings asked, "Do you favor action of the Wisconsin State Legislature to ban deer feeding and baiting statewide?" a majority of attendees voted in favor of a ban. On a county basis, 43 counties supported a ban, 25 counties were not in favor, and four counties were neutral.

Trends from the field Conservation wardens note hunters tell them they have started baiting only because their neighbors are doing it. This has led to a competition for who can attract the most deer, which often results in baiting violations due to a gross excess of the two-gallon limits. In some cases, wardens have found locations where deer bait was dumped by the truckload to attract deer. Wardens have also discovered instances where landowners fed deer to hold them on their property where hunters would not have access to them.

Some hunters, like the one in the incident that opened this story, believe baiting can give them an edge when hunting public lands, but they get frustrated when other hunters want access to that same area. Baiting sparks friction and competition between hunting groups. Warden Matt Meade of Peshtigo recalls a heated conversation two years ago with a hunter whom he was citing for hunting over too much bait. The hunter said he was being picked on. He said he was baiting more heavily on public hunting grounds because he firmly believed he had to draw deer from adjoining private lands that he believed were not as regularly checked. He was convinced people on adjoining private lands were placing both more bait piles and larger bait piles. Meade sees baiting as a tension area and a barrier between those hunting on public lands and those on private property.

Growing deer populations rise faster due to baiting and feeding The unnatural addition of nutrients encourages higher deer numbers, even though deer are already significantly above population goals throughout most of the state. Feeding deer throughout the winter can increase survival rates and well-fed does are more likely to bear more fawns in the spring. An overabundance of deer on the landscape above the population goals brings increased agricultural damage, ecological damage and a greater need for herd control tools that are unpopular with many hunters.

Deer have evolved and survived long before human settlement in North America. The species has prevailed without the aid of agriculture, bait or feed, even through the harshest of winters.

Baiting puts a bigger economy at risk Over the years, many grain operations have found opportunity in packaging and selling their products to deer hunters and feeders. Each fall, stacks of "deer corn," apples, carrots, pumpkins and spuds line the roadsides and sidewalks at convenience stores to draw in the people who would feed deer. We know that the risks of disease transmission make the profits from these short-term sales seem paltry. A stable footprint of the Wisconsin economy includes its $34 billion livestock industry. If TB were found in Wisconsin's wild deer herd, it would trigger an estimated $1.87 million in annual testing costs alone for farmers to continue exporting cattle. Larger deer populations pumped up by supplemental food also lead to larger herds that can cause crop damage every year. In 2007, Wisconsin paid more than $1.6 million in appraised crop damage losses to those enrolled in the Wildlife Damage and Abatement Claims program.

Baiting and feeding also jeopardize Wisconsin's forests and the $22 billion forest products industry. Deer overpopulation nips back natural tree regeneration and decreases the native undergrowth in our forests and fields. This creates a trickle-down effect within our forest ecosystems that changes the makeup of native plants and forests that support native flora, forest composition, and losses of the birds and mammals that depend on certain plant species.

Deer overpopulation and habit changes brought on by baiting and feeding can increase the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions. Every year, deer-vehicle collisions result in hundreds of injuries and, tragically, some deaths to motorists. Deer-vehicle collisions cause millions of dollars in personal property damages. As deer habituate in residential areas near feed piles, they are more likely to cross roads and get hit by vehicles in unexpected places near urban areas as well as in the countryside.

A 2007 law requires people to cease baiting and feeding activities for at least 30 days if bear or elk are known to be visiting the food sites. Since that time, there has been a noticeable decline in the frequency of elk-vehicle collisions in the Clam Lake area.

The science is clear that for herd health, economic health and disease control, restoring a statewide ban on deer feeding and baiting is warranted. Baiting and feeding are not necessary for herd survival, do not increase the overall harvest and come with some very real, very large risks.

Jason Fleener is the Assistant Deer and Elk Ecologist with DNR's Bureau of Wildlife Management.

Current baiting and feeding laws snip...see full text ;

cwd feeding baiting

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Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
P.O. Box 42
Bacliff, Texas USA 77518

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