By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Several weeks ago the Wisconsin DNR released information that during the month of January a baiting and feeding ban will begin in three counties. The new ban will be in Oneida, Forest and Vilas counties. The DNR mentioned that this upcoming ban was triggered by the identification of a deer that tested positive for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease).
The announcement created some negative feelings across these three counties. No one in the general hunting community will be allowed to bait or feed beginning mid-January. However members of the state’s six Chippewa tribes will be able to continue to bait or feed under the current limit of two gallons of bait.
The state’s three tribes closest to the ban area are Mole Lake, Lac du Flambeau and Bad River.
Baiting violations on public lands by a tribal member would be referred to tribal court for prosecution according to Dave Waltz, DNR Warden Supervisor in Woodruff, as quoted in the “Outdoor News.”
Officials would not say if any deer have been killed in efforts to continue testing on the Three Lakes Trophy Ranch where CWD was identified.
Also, last week the DNR reported that another deer in the state’s herd had tested positive for CWD. This second case was on private land in Crawford County. And in southern Michigan another case of CWD has been confirmed.
Senator Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said in an email that he has been working with officials to see if a different solution could be found for this situation.
Tiffany said, “The DNR has sampled 334 wild deer in the three counties to where the ban is coming.”
While talking with many local deer hunters and numerous residents the big concern for many is, “are we able to put out corn in our yard so we can watch them as they feed as we have done for many years?” As I understand the ban, no feeding is allowed. We are told that the disease could spread to the entire wild deer population if the action of banning feeding and baiting is not enforced. That is the reason given to not allow numerous wild deer to feed from feeders.
Apparently baiting and feeding by Native Americans in the ceded territory is regulated by different standards than those applying to the rest of the state’s population without fear of spreading the disease. Perhaps it is time to figure out what message we are spreading. The lead line in the “Wisconsin Outdoor News” said, “Baiting, feeding ban won’t apply to Native Americans in ceded territory.”
At this time CWD has spread to an area that we really enjoy visiting, Rocky Mountain National Park. It has been found in elk there and also in mule deer in Wyoming. Meanwhile in Wisconsin CWD continues to expand.
On another subject there have been some proposed changes to the Managed Forest Law that was meant to encourage sustainable forestry and a constant stream of fiber for the timber industry while encouraging habitat improvement and ground water protection. Two-thirds of all wood harvested in the state of Wisconsin comes from private land according to Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz. He is proposing a new bill that he feels would be more acceptable to woodland owners.
The Wisconsin Association of Forest Owners said that the bill concerning private land is heading in the right direction.
Longtime outdoors enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.