A state lawmaker wants to tweak the ability of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to ban deer feeding in areas that have positive tests for Chronic Wasting Disease.
The bill from state Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) would allow counties with CWD to resume feeding the animals after three years if no new cases turn up.
“We thought it was important to have a debate about this issue, and ultimately to put some sunset on the otherwise open-ended authority that the statute permanently provides to the DNR,” Jarchow said.
In 2011 a CWD infected deer was found in near Shell Lake in Washburn County. Since then, a deer feeding ban has been in place there and in neighboring Barron, Burnett and Polk Counties. Testing in subsequent years has not found any other animals that have tested positive for CWD in those counties.
“There’s a lot of people, including members of my family who have for decades fed deer in the winter, because they like to watch them out the window when it’s 30 below,” said Jarchow.
The lawmaker said that while he hasn’t personally spoken with anyone who has been fined, he’s been told of some residents being issued citations by the DNR for deer feeding.
Statewide, deer feeding and baiting bans are in place in 35 Wisconsin counties. The fatal brain disease was first discovered in Wisconsin near Mount Horeb in 2002.