Walker signs bill limiting deer baiting bans

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(WBAY) - A new hunting law sparks change in more than a dozen counties across the state.

Governor Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday that will dramatically relax deer baiting and feeding bans in counties affected by chronic wasting disease.

The DNR imposed bans in 43 counties, but Friday it will lift the bans for fifteen of those counties: Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Clark, Dodge, Jackson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Polk, Racine, Sheboygan, Washburn, Washington and Waushara.

Until now, the Wisconsin DNR indefinitely banned baiting and feeding in counties where CWD has been confirmed and also counties within a 10-mile radius of that county. But the new law limits the ban in infected counties to three years, neighboring counties to two years and also ends bans enacted before 2014.

Tami Ryan, Wildlife Health Section, DNR said, "The current baiting and feeding bans will be lifted then from 15 counties within the state of Wisconsin. 28 counties will continue to have baiting and feeding bans."

The purpose of the ban was to slow the disease's spread by preventing deer from congregating over feed and bait piles and hunter reaction to this change has been mixed, with some wishing baiting would just go away.

Chuck VandenLangenberg, who hunts in Marinette County told us, "We go to these meetings in springs, the DNR hearings. You go in there and have the baiting issue almost every year. We say can we vote on it, we want to ban it. It just doesn't make any sense. They should ban it everywhere and be done with it."

Another hunter tells us the change could be good.

Marcus Steele, who hunts in Grant County said, "It will definitely make a big difference on what limitations they put on if the DNR enforces the amount of baiting that's being done. I know like right now there are people that I think are supposed to have a gallon or two out in the woods that they can do in certain areas, but there are people who take out whole gravity boxes and dump them. That's stuff that if they enforce the laws that are there, it will be just fine."
"I think It's just important for people to understand that this is just specific to baiting and feeding ban. It does not mean that CWD is no longer a matter of concern in those counties,” Ryan said on behalf of the DNR.

The DNR will be keeping their baiting and feeding web page up to date as new information comes in over the course of time, so if another deer tests positive, the ban goes back into effect in that county.