Hunters: Follow bait and feeding bans; Properly dispose of carcasses

Help slow the spread of chronic debilitating disease

MADISON, Wisconsin. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking deer hunters and the public to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) by following bans of bait and feed and properly disposing of deer carcass waste this hunting season.

State law prohibits baiting deer or feeding deer for viewing in certain counties due to the presence of CWD. In counties where CWD has not been found, hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts can still choose not to bait or feed deer and help reduce the risk of CWD transmission. You can easily check the county’s bait and feed bans on the DNR website.

Bait is any material that is placed or used to attract wild animals for hunting purposes, including aromatic materials, salt, minerals, and grains. Feed is any material used to feed or attract wild animals for purposes other than hunting, including recreational and supplemental feeding, except as permitted for birds and small mammals. Bait and feed placed on the landscape, even in limited amounts, often attract abnormal numbers of deer.

Counties fall under a three-year bait and feed ban when wild or farm-raised deer have tested positive for CWD in the county. If the CWD-positive deer is found within 10 miles of the county line, the adjoining county will fall under a two-year ban. If additional cases of CWD are found during the term of a bait and feed ban, the ban will be reinstated for an additional two to three years.

In counties where baiting and feeding are permitted, the following precautions should be taken when feeding birds and small mammals:

  • Feeding devices and structures are of sufficient height or design to prevent deer access.
  • Make sure structures and power devices are no more than 50 yards from a dwelling dedicated to human occupancy.
  • If deer, bear, or elk use bird feeding structures or devices, the devices or structures must be enclosed or elevated to prevent access.

More information on Wisconsin wildlife feeding and deer baiting regulations is available here.

Disposal of deer carcasses

With a successful harvest comes deer carcass waste. Proper carcass disposal helps slow the spread of chronic wasting disease by removing potentially infected deer carcasses from the landscape. To properly dispose of deer carcass waste, locate a designated dump, transfer station, or landfill that accepts deer carcass waste near you on the DNR website.

The department does not recommend transporting whole deer carcasses to areas outside of the county or adjacent county where the animal was taken.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic wasting disease is a deadly disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, elk, and caribou. Transmission occurs when disease prions are shed by infected animals through saliva, urine, feces, and natural decomposition after death. The infectious agent CWD, or prion, is extremely resistant to decomposition in the environment. Because of this, improper baiting, feeding, and carcass disposal increase the risk of transmission.

While there has not been a documented case of CWD in humans, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization recommend against consuming meat from deer infected with CWD. Infected deer may appear healthy; however, DHS encourages testing for the disease regardless of the physical condition of your hunted deer. DHS also recommends that the public only consume venison from venison when test results indicate that CWD was not detected.

To find a CWD sampling site near you where you can submit samples of Wisconsin-caught deer for free, visit the DNR’s “Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling” web page. Test results are usually available from the DNR within two weeks.

More information about CWD and how to prevent its spread is available on the DNR website here.