Under new law, deer baiting, feeding bans to expire in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 08/09/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Under new law, deer baiting, feeding bans to expire in Northwoods
WAUSAU - People in Vilas and Forest counties could begin legally baiting and feeding deer as soon as next fall. Oneida County's baiting and feeding ban could be lifted in 2019.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill making that possible last week. Before Walker enacted the law, bans were permanent in those counties.

Tests found the deadly brain disease in deer at a Three Lakes game farm in late 2015. That discovery triggered a ban on baiting and feeding in the three counties near Three Lakes. Research shows CWD can spread when deer cluster around feeding sites.

But the ban also drew complaints from wildlife watchers and some hunters. The bill Walker signed last week will let the ban expire after three years in CWD counties and after two years in adjacent counties.

"There's been discussions about, do you double up fencing [at game farms]? Do you look at a number of other options out there? I think there's a whole series of things," Walker said on Wednesday in Wausau. "I don't know that this specific ban was the be-all-end-all."

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress pushed strongly to keep county bans in place. This spring, the majority of the DNR's County Deer Advisory Councils voted to extend the feeding ban statewide, instead of letting it end in some places.

"We're going to look at not only working with the Conservation Congress [and] Department of Natural Resources staff, but others who are concerned and interested about this to make sure that science is driving all the decisions we make," Walker said.

State regulators found deer with CWD at the same Three Lakes farm last fall. That means Oneida County will be under a ban until at least 2019. More infected deer would push the ban out even further. The ban in Vilas and Forest counties will be in place until at least next fall.

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