To fight disease, DNR may ban deer feeding
ST. PAUL -- The Department of Natural Resources on Friday said it would seek a ban on the feeding of deer in Minnesota, a step aimed at reducing the spread of chronic wasting disease.
While the fatal brain disease hasn't yet been found in deer in Minnesota, it exists in deer in Wisconsin and South Dakota. Authorities in those states and others have been working to slow the spread of the disease, known as CWD.
The Minnesota DNR said it would ask the Legislature, when it convenes in January, to ban deer feeding and prohibit hunters from bringing whole deer carcasses into the state. The agency will also ask for a $1 increase in deer license fees, with proceeds designated to pay for fighting CWD.
The proposed ban on deer feeding would not extend to other animals nor would it apply to agricultural practices such as salt licks for cattle or leaving round bales in fields. But mineral blocks and salt blocks intended for deer wouldn't be allowed, under the proposal.
Scientists aren't sure precisely how CWD is spread, though evidence suggests it is through direct contact between animals.
Mike DonCarlos, wildlife research manager for the DNR, said the feeding ban make sense because deer tend to get close and touch noses over feed and salt blocks. "If CWD was present in the state, artificial feeding would likely increase the risk of its spread," DonCarlos said.