GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As Wisconsin deer hunters set their sights on the woods this fall, a record number of counties have baiting and feeding bans in place.
Forty-three of the state's 72 counties have a ban on baiting and feeding deer -- those restrictions aimed to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). See the complete list below.
That means those counties either had a positive CWD test in a wild deer or from a game farm, or they are within 10 miles of the positive test.
This also means baiting deer is now illegal in more than half of the counties in Northeast Wisconsin with the addition of two more counties.
"Florence and Marinette are new this year based on a positive game farm CWD case late last year," says DNR Regional Wildlife Biologist Jeff Pritzl.
Pritzl says the ban is meant to slow the spread of CWD by keeping high numbers of deer from congregating in the same location.
An infected deer spreads disease agents, called prions, through bodily fluids.
"The fundamental difference with baiting and feeding as opposed to other attractive food sources, just an agricultural field or a food plot even, is that in a bait situation or feeding situation the food is being replenished over and over at the same spot, so it's just amplifying that repeat contact," says Pritzl.
If caught illegally baiting deer, fines start at $300,
Wardens say right now their focus is on education.
"We do know that there's people that are intending on baiting anyway or might bait even in excess of what the legal limit used to be, so in those situations we'll look at enforcement action, but for right now we're trying to do as much education as we can," says DNR Regional Warden Ben Treml.
With Marinette County a popular destination for hunters from Green Bay and the Fox Cities, wardens say their patience will only last so long.
They'll be on the watch this fall for illegal baiting and counting on the public for help.
"The public does a phenomenal job. They are the eyes and ears out there, and they can call our tip number of 1-800-TIP-WDNR," says Treml.
Counties with baiting and feeding restrictions:
Fond du Lac