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Question on deer feeding on dumped food (preseason)

55 posts in this topic

My dad had been putting out corn over the summer and has a trail-cam setup. He noticed a weird phenomenon on the trail-cam. Sometimes, within 20 minutes of putting out the corn, he has deer feeding there. Each time he freshens up the pile, he has activity relatively quickly. Then they'll pull out (still leaving plenty of corn) and don't return until more is brought out and they show up again right away.

Has anyone else experienced this? (Sounds like a great schedule if MN allowed baiting...dump food and wait.)

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From my understanding this is basically what goes on in Texas and some other states. Timed feeders are set up. At a certain time they go off and scatter food. When they do this they make noise and the deer come running.

I think that we should all be thankful that the DNR banned deer baiting before it got started in MN. Without the bait we all have a fairly equal chance. Not a situation of who has the best baitpile, wins.

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Well said candiru. Enough people illegally bait already, I would hate to see what happened if it were legal.

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Anyone ever heard of Pavlov's dogs? The deer are coming in because they are close enough to hear or smell the fresh food. If someone were to go out there and play a sound recording of the feeding ritual the deer would show up even if there was no food. This wierd phenomenon was used in 1890.

There are videos out there of deer that show up just at the sound of a feeder whirring when the spreader spins.

Those deer are becoming tame. That is why baiting isn't allowed. It alters the natural behavior of the deer, it provides them with a mostly unnutritious source of food and it contributes to the spread of disease.

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During the winter I feed the deer in the back yard. I'll take a half full 5 galoon bucket out and dump it in the feeder then bang the bucket on the side of the feeder three times. Kinda like a dinner bell. By the time I get back to the house they are out there eating.

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I guess I would not say the deer are becoming tame. If you tried to go up and pet one, I bet it wouldn't let you. They are becoming conditioned, however, and that's an unfair advantage in Minnesota and surrounding states, in my opinion.

I don't want baiting to become legal here, because I agree with the DNR that we don't need it to be successful. I do believe that it could be warranted in some states like Texas, however, where they claim its needed to draw deer out into the open. (Just like we claim here its necessary to dump a pile of goodies on the ground to get a bear.)

I'm not sure how accurate the Texas claim is because I've never hunted there. And one really can't dispute it unless they have been and tried it out. I hope to hunt there some day and I will indeed hunt over a feeder there if that's what's offered. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

But in Minnesota, let's not go that route.

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Well , here is my thought, like or not. If their are so many deer around that in our area you can shot a total of five each, why not be able to bait to bring the population to a stable healthy level?

Another thought, If I hunt on my own property that I pay taxes on, What is the difference between leaving some stand in the field untill season is over or throwing it on the ground.

I say support your local farmer and buy corn!

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I agree they do not become "tame" like your dog in the house, but if you can feed them from your hand, if they don't spook at the sight of people and they become conditioned to feeding times, they are slowly becoming domesticated.

Every year the topic of baiting comes up and it's okay to have a healthy intelligent conversation. My personal opinion is against it. I won't bash anyone who wants to feed deer, but I will report you if you're baiting illegally.

Be careful with the "its my land and I pay taxes on it" comments. The law does not allow you to do whatever the heck you please on your own land. You are still held to the same laws as everyone else and Conservation Officers are allowed to enter private land to make arrests or to investigate with probable cause.

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I got a buddy in Texas who feeds deer with a electriical timed feeder,Its set at 9AM & 6PM, at 5 minutes before the release food time deer are there! grouped up! waitin for the coffee can portion of corn to be released.

If one of these deer had a transmitible disease! There would be NO deer to feed! Then while in the woods with nonhumanized deer a disease would possibley spread county wide then further.

Look northwest with the TB they want to kill all deer and livestock in the area.

So is feeding a good thing? make your own assumption! I say NO!

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I say feeding the deer is not the way to go. Its fine if all you are doing is putting food out for your camera but for hunting not ok. You need to get out there find where the deer are going and sit on a trail and hunt them. That is why they call it hunting! just my two cents!

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The way to prevent disease is through conservation [hunting]. When a coyota or fox get mang "a transmitible disease" is it from feeding them ?,No. Over population is the number one cause of disease in most situations.

Let me help you to understand what has happened in the northwest. The deer did not get TB from baiting. They got it from cattle, long story short. An overpopulation that brought them into contact.

POWERSTROKE you have an open invite to spend the night at my bear bait station hand feeding my conditioned, domesticated and tame bears...LOL..

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Well ungulate & caninus Is a poor comparison!

Yes now hunting is preventing disease WAY TOO LATE! Same if its spread from feeding it'll be to late once discovered!

Do you keep up with DNR information? If ya did you'd know more and know their wanting to ban ALL deer feeding just for disease reasons,Their problem is lobbists from the feed companies that are making millions from foolish people not thinking and feeding!

One outbreak of some disease and it could devastate the herd! Then the hunters who support wildlife will be out!

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NO, Not a poor comparison. The disease that you fear is not spread through food, It is spread through contact.[rubbing noses etc.]

Is it your understanding that deer have no contact other than at a bait pile? WRONG!

YES! Their is problem, lobbists hired by ANTIES that distort the truth and hand feed it to the public so they can say their

"keeping up with the imformation" and "they know more".

Were is the research that proves your theory?

Every law that is passed, is a right we have lost.

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I didn't know the anti's were involved. It is the perception of the non-hunting public that we need to worry about the most. If people see large pickups with trailer loads of deer feed on the road they may think that: "this could be used to feed starving children". It makes it harder to project a positive image of our sport when the perception is that we just set our lazy rear-ends down overlooking a feed pile and shoot the poor little deer that is just looking for a meal.

As for (every law thats passed takes away our rights), are you saying that the drunk driving law takes away someones "right" to drive drunk? I guess it does but we as a society decided the rights of the innocent bystander or motorist were more important. The no-baiting law helps protect the rights of all hunters to be able to go after deer in their natural condition. It gives everyone a somewhat equal chance. For example, the public land hunter doesn't have to worry about the deer in the area being drawn to neighboring private land where someone has the time/money to put out an attractive smorgasbord for the deer. We all don't have the time/money/land to bait.

As far as disease goes. Having deer in close contact on a bait site is definatly going to increase the possibility of disease transmission. I guess it is hard to prove but it is common sense. Deer going to baitpiles are going to have closer contact with each other.

I don't believe that more deer would be shot if baiting were legal. The folks that put out the best/most bait, are not going to do that to shoot does. They will put out trail cameras and then go after the big ones. It draws deer from other areas where they would normally be accessable to other hunters and that diminishes the chances (rights) of these other hunters. I believe Wisconsin allows baiting with some volume restrictions. About 6 years ago this month I and some others were driving through Wisconsin. We could see the "browse line" in the trees that the deer could reach to. There were obviously plenty of deer. The sun went down and we saw almost no deer. It was a beautiful evening and we remarked how in MN we would have seen a bunch. Are they nocturnal because of bait? MN's population seems to be more under control.

A personal opinion here. If banning baiting helps keep the guide/outfitter/land leasing businesses from getting out of hand in MN, that is a good thing too. Lets keep MN hunting the best possible for the most people possible and not a sport for the rich and priviledged. Maybe I am just a little (alot?) old fashioned in believing that hunting should be hunting, and not harvesting.

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Would it not help you to be more successful?

"we all dont have the time/money/land to bait."

As far as your drunk driving statment, their is evidence that driving drunk impairs you. Where is your evidence that the same grain that is feed to supply your meat, is going to cause disease in deer?

Yes, I do agree that deer may walk from parcel to parcel. But if that is your problem with baiting then leave it at that. Dont jump on the b.s. bandwagon of spreadind some negative,unresearched disease theory!

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Yes, I would be more succesful if I baited. But I don't want to have to bait, which I feel I may have to do if everyone else did it. I have a piece of property that is not that large but it does seem to attract deer when shooting starts. If I baited I would be able to hold deer on my property but also it would take away opportunities from the neighbors, and there may be less deer killed in my area if baiting was allowed. I would probably be more likely to shoot a buck if I baited, thus not cutting the population as much as just taking the first adult deer that comes by if I have a doe permit in my pocket.

If you want scientific information; I googled "bovine tuburculosis" the disease that is currently affecting deer in northwestern MN. The following is from a State of Michigan HSOforum, where deer have also been infected with the disease:

Transmission

The disease primarily affects the respiratory tract but can also spread to other parts of the body. The primary route of transmission is the exchange of respiratory secretions between infected and uninfected animals. This can be achieved through nose-to-nose contact or by the inhalation of aerosol droplets that have been exhaled by an infected animal. Animals may also become infected with M. bovis by ingesting the bacteria. This could occur by ingesting feeds that have been contaminated with M. bovis by other infected animals. Carnivores may become infected with bovine TB by eating infected carcasses

Here is a cut from the same HSOforum on the transmission of CWD:

Transmission: Animal to Animal

Transmission of CWD is possible in species with closely related proteins, thereby being able to exchange prions and cause disease. It is not likely to jump the species barrier. There is no evidence at this time that CWD can be naturally transmitted to livestock or animals other than deer and elk. In deer and elk, the causal agent of CWD is transmissible from infected to uninfected individuals. Both circumstantial and experimental evidence implicates an animal to animal form of transmission. This occurs via horizontal or lateral (contact between adult animal and adult animal, contamination of feed or water sources with saliva, urine, and/or feces, or contact with an infected facility or area), and more rarely as vertical or maternal (adult animal (dam) to offspring via contact). Concentrating cervids in captivity and baiting or feeding animals can greatly increase the chances of disease spread.

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I think you won there candiru. Baiting may not be the only reason disease spreads in deer, and may not be the reason it spread here in MN. The point being made is that baiting can cause disease to spread, and in fact DOES increase the chance of spreading from animal to animal. Baiting during season is wrong, and I feel it is unethical to think otherwise. Hunting should be just that, hunting, not harvesting. Hunting with bait is to an extent like fishing walleyes during a spawn. Even though you are using the same fishing rod as everyone else, you are fishing in an area all the fish want to congregate to, thus giving the angler an advantage. This is illegal in MN and I feel it makes all the sense in the world. A hunter needs to be an ethical sportsman above all. Baiting gives an unfair advantage to the hunter and causes potentially devastating problems to wildlife.

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Thank You, I just hope that we do whats in the best interest of all hunters and not just the most avid, the most well-to-do, or the ones with connections to good land.

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The way to prevent disease is through conservation [hunting]. When a coyota or fox get mang "a transmitible disease" is it from feeding them ?,No. Over population is the number one cause of disease in most situations.

Let me help you to understand what has happened in the northwest. The deer did not get TB from baiting. They got it from cattle, long story short. An overpopulation that brought them into contact.

POWERSTROKE you have an open invite to spend the night at my bear bait station hand feeding my conditioned, domesticated and tame bears...LOL..

Let me help you to understand what has happened in the northwest. Just what do you help us understand? Is it you want to bait?

And you stated this???-----Dont jump on the b.s. bandwagon of spreadind some negative,unresearched disease theory!

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Those are great examples of a hypothesis!

Does the possibility of such disease spread through contact extant? Sure, your reasearch supports that.

Is it also possible we could get hit by a meteorite?

What is the probability rate?

Is the risk factor any more infectious than deer browsing on the same plants or drinking from the same puddle?

I still believe the most compelling evidence to the spread of disease is overpopulation.

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Todd, we all know you dont really deer hunt or know anything about deer. wink

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True but I'd rather we exhaust all other options like not baiting so the over population of deer aren't more likely to congregate in one spot and rub snouts, etc. Otherwise, you get trigger happy sharp shooters like Wisconsin and other states where the solution has been to eradicate the deer population. Be careful what you wish for or there will be no hunting period because there will be no deer.

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I would say the probability of disease spreading is higher when deer are concentrated over bait. Just say that bait is spread over an area the size of a living room over the course of late summer and into late fall. How many deer feed and relieve themselves in that small area?

I think that the over population will be worse with baiting. The folks that really put the effort into baiting are not doing it to shoot does. They want the big one. Those does on the bait piles are not going to be on land where someone else can shoot them. Will that cause some to quit hunting and compound the problem? Wis. and Mich. allow baiting, at least to some extent, and they have worse overpopulation problems than MN. I have read that the DNR's in those states wish they had done what MN has and banned baiting earlier. The population in MN is coming down as evidenced by the increase in lottery areas this year.

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I know deer baiting has been debated in this forum and other forums DOZENS of times, but I still thought some of you may enjoy this article from the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Sept/Oct 08

The Race to Bait

By John Myers

To bait or not to bait -- that is a question some hunters ask as firearms deer season approaches, even though deer baiting in Minnesota has been outlawed for almost two decades.

Conservation officer Tim Collette had a pretty good hunch what was going on in the woods southwest of Longville. He was acting on a tip that three hunters on a tract of public land were illegally using corn to bait deer to their hunting stands -- miles from the nearest cornfield. He even saw spilled corn on the ground.

Collette approached one hunter in the group who was standing over a freshly field-dressed deer. The man insisted they hadn't put any corn on the land for more than two weeks -- in accordance with Minnesota's law that bans feeding deer for 10 days before and during deer season, except in northwestern Minnesota.

Collette wasn't buying it.

"He still had his knife in one hand, so I asked if I could borrow it,'' Collette recalled of the incident during the 2007 firearms deer season. "I reached down and cut open the deer's stomach, and the corn just poured out.

"He looked at me and said 'I guess I'm screwed now.' ''

The three hunters admitted their crime, and Collette issued citations -- $382 each for deer baiting. And he confiscated the deer. The three violations were among the 100 issued last year in the northeast region, making illegal deer baiting the region's fourth most common violation during the firearms season. Most violators don't get caught. Some officers report that nearly half the deer stands they check have evidence of illegal baiting -- a violation seldom seen a decade ago.

Seventeen years after the Department of Natural Resources banned the practice, agency biologists say there are compelling reasons to keep baiting illegal -- especially the potential spread of disease: Baiting brings too many deer too close together.

Baiting Everywhere.

Deer baiting may be illegal, but it's not hard to find when firearms season opens in November.

"I fly over deer camps on the day before the season and see the feed bags in the back of pickups and on four-wheelers,'' said Al Buchert, a conservation officer-pilot in northeastern Minnesota.

"I'm seeing baiting everywhere I fly, even in the farm areas,'' said Lt. Tom Pfingsten, a conservation officer-pilot who patrols much of the central portion of the state. "[in one case] they dumped corn in the corner of a plowed field, right in front of a deer stand.''

Some baiters have taken to using black sunflower seeds or placing feed under balsam fir branches to avoid detection from the air. Near the Twin Cities, a baiter strung up camouflage netting to conceal the bait pile from air surveillance.

Conservation officer-pilots take photographs and mark GPS coordinates of bait piles and forward the information to officers on the ground. The fine for illegal baiting is $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized. Guns may be confiscated as well. But the threat of a citation doesn't seem to be stopping baiters from hauling feed into the forest.

"It's one of those things I shake my head at because I don't understand why so many people are doing this,'' said Mark Johnson, executive director of the 19,000-member Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. "It's not going away. Baiting is a big problem that's getting bigger across more of the state.''

Why Bait?

Opinions and attitudes about baiting vary from hunter to hunter, from state to state, and even depending on the quarry. Baiting has long been considered among the most heinous of waterfowl hunting crimes and remains a violation of state and federal waterfowl regulations. Yet baiting is legal, mostly accepted, and widely considered necessary for bear hunting in Minnesota because bear are more nocturnal than deer and harder to hunt based solely on their natural movements. Without bait, bear hunter success rates would drop significantly in Minnesota's thick forests.

Deer baiting is accepted in some states (such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Maryland) and shunned in others (Missouri, Mississippi, Iowa). In Minnesota three-fourths of MDHA members oppose baiting for deer, according to a member survey.

Randy Willie of Carlton said some of his fellow Minnesota deer hunters see their neighbors in Wisconsin baiting and wonder why they can't do it here. But he said, "Most guys don't want it.''

Aside from biological issues such as the spread of disease, Willie opposes baiting because it doesn't follow the fair chase ethic.

"I've hunted over bait in Wisconsin because it seems like everybody does it over there. But I feel so [PoorWordUsage] guilty, I don't even enjoy it,'' Willie said. "You see more deer with bait. But most of them are does and fawns. I don't like it.''

Despite the overwhelming perception that baiting helps hunters bag more deer, that's not necessarily the case. A 2001 Wisconsin study showed surprisingly little difference in success among baiters and nonbaiters. A South Carolina study showed nonbaiters shot more deer in less time afield than baiters did.

It would seem Minnesota hunters don't need another edge over deer. There are an estimated 1.2 million whitetails in the state, among the highest number ever recorded here. Hunters bagged some 260,000 deer last season, fourth on the all-time harvest list and not far from the top years. Hunter success rates in recent seasons have been consistently high; and hunters in some areas can shoot three, four, five, or more deer each season simply by buying extra tags.

The MDHA's Johnson sees increased illegal baiting as a symptom of larger societal problems -- namely laziness and impatience. Johnson said people's lives are so busy that they aren't stopping to enjoy the real attractions of deer season and deer camp -- fresh air in the autumn woods, the annual gathering of friends, and matching wits with nature.

"Baiting is part of the quest for instant gratification. Some people don't want to work for what they get,'' Johnson said. "What's sad is that many of these people haven't figured out that the really good part of hunting is working for it.''

Deer season once meant several days or a week at deer camp or the old family farmhouse, with lots of time to linger in the woods and maybe bag a buck, Johnson said. Now, for many hunters, deer "season'' often boils down to sitting in a tree stand for a day or two before having to rush back to the city for their youngster's sports practice, social functions, or work.

Capt. Ken Soring, northeastern regional manager for DNR Enforcement, said some baiters are entertaining guest hunters on their land and working to assure the visitors have success. Many cases also involve fathers baiting for their sons and daughters.

"I compare it to the hockey dad who wants to see his kid score a goal so much he can't control himself. We've got dads in the woods now who want their son to get a deer so bad they're willing to break the law and break the hunting code of ethics to do it,'' Soring said. "What I'd rather see is the dad out there teaching the skills like scouting and finding deer sign and working the wind.''

Johnson and Soring said hunting DVDs and cable television shows often feature repeated hunter success shooting big-antlered bucks. Often, there's a pile of bait or even a commercial deer-feeding machine visible in the background. Baiting, feeding, and planting special food to attract deer has become a multimillion-dollar national industry.

In some cases, officers get the "everybody's doing it'' excuse.

"It's a form of peer pressure. They see someone else bait and have success,'' Soring said. "And if the next deer camp over is baiting, they think they have to bait to keep up.''

The Right Move.

Without much debate, and without a crisis at hand, the DNR banned deer baiting across the state in 1991. DNR Fish and Wildlife director Dave Schad was the division's big game leader back then. At the time Minnesota had little tradition of baiting, though problems were mounting in some states to the east.

"Our counterparts in Michigan and Wisconsin warned us that if there wasn't support for baiting in Minnesota yet, there would be soon, and that it would be very hard to get the genie back in the bottle,'' said Schad. "They told us that baiting was basically out of control in Michigan, that disease was going to be a big issue ? and that baiting had changed the entire face of hunting over there, from skills-based to who could put out the most bait.''

Minnesota DNR leaders discussed enacting the ban on baiting to preserve the fairness, quality, and tradition of the state's deer hunting. But the key reason then and now is the spread of disease.

According to Schad, deer that eat from the same pile or feeding station have more face-to-face contact. That contact spreads disease faster. Biologists say deer eating together in planted fields or historic wintering yards don't have nearly as much contact as deer being fed or baited.

"There's just no time in nature when they are that close, nose-to-nose, for that much time,'' Schad said, citing fears of bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease.

Baiting also changes deer movement, pulling animals from one area into another. Increased movement leads to more highway crossings and traffic accidents. Sometimes the move causes animosity between landowners vying to see or shoot more deer. In some areas, baiting pulls deer from public to private land, essentially privatizing a public natural resource.

Officer Collette saw baiting concentrate deer near Pine River last fall. On 500 acres owned by a group of hunters, he found 11 of 13 stands had been illegally baited with piles of oats. Collette asked the violators why they didn't just plant crops on their land.

"They said it wasn't worth the effort for a couple days hunting, that baiting was easier,'' Collette said. "Right next to those guys I ran into a father hunting with two sons, 13 and 14. They were hunting on public land and doing it the right way, and they didn't understand why they weren't seeing any deer. I never did tell them there was a ton of oats sitting 200 yards away.'' (Collette didn't tell the family because he hadn't yet busted the nearby culprits and didn't want to expose his case.)

Feeding ban next?

In a Wisconsin DNR study, some deer stopped migrating to traditional wintering areas because they had so much feed -- from baiting and from feeding by wildlife watchers. Deer researchers in Minnesota near Remer now are seeing the same deer behavior because of widespread recreational feeding. In 2005 when bovine tuberculosis broke out among cattle in northwestern Minnesota, both illegal baiting and legal feeding had increased in the region (see sidebar).

At an MDHA meeting in February 2008, chapter representatives voted to support a seasonal statewide ban on deer feeding. In addition to keeping disease in check, prohibiting all deer feeding from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 would end any question of why food was being placed in the woods. Johnson said a statewide seasonal feeding ban would put all hunters on an even playing field to see deer based on their natural movement.

Schad said DNR officials have discussed a statewide feeding ban, but such a proposal won't be made lightly.

It likely would face fierce opposition from some groups, especially businesses that sell feed. Many Minnesota COs report that some small stores and even taverns stock up on feed before deer season specifically to sell to hunters. And lawmakers will get an earful from people who like to watch deer feeding near their home or cabin.

The DNR has been working with legislators in recent years to plug loopholes that impaired the effectiveness of existing baiting and feeding laws.

"We'll continue working and monitoring to see if those changes are having an effect," Schad said. "In addition we'll continue very vigorous feeding and baiting enforcement efforts in the TB area of northwest Minnesota." To report deer baiting or other natural resources law violations, call Turn in Poachers, TIP, anytime at 800-652-9093.

~sidebar~ Controlling disease in northwestern Minnesota's deer herd

In 2005 an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis -- a progressive and chronic bacterial disease -- among beef cattle in northwestern Minnesota spread to the local wild deer herd. Since the disease can spread through the exchange of respiratory secretions, the deer were most likely exposed when they commingled with infected cattle on farms and shared unprotected feed.

After the disease was confirmed in deer, the DNR banned recreational deer and elk feeding in a 4,000-square-mile area surrounding the bovine TB management area.

"Recreational feeding congregates animals into unnaturally high densities and increases nose-to-nose contact," says DNR regional wildlife manager Paul Telander. "One infected animal can contaminate feed and potentially spread the disease to every uninfected animal at the feeding site."

Because there are currently no effective vaccines or medications for bovine TB in animals, all of the infected cattle herds were destroyed. Between September 2007 and May 2008, hunters, landowners, and DNR-contracted sharpshooters reduced the local deer herd by 2,656 deer.

"This was a major disease control action that called for extreme measures," said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. "The future health of Minnesota's deer herd and the economic interests of cattle ranchers and dairy farmers were at stake."

Thanks to the cooperative efforts of state and federal agencies, cattle producers, hunters, and landowners, the prevalence of bovine TB in Minnesota remains low and is confined to a relatively small geographical area. From 2005 through 2007, a total of 11 TB-infected beef cattle herds and 18 TB-infected deer were confirmed. Preliminary results from 2008 indicate six TB-presumptive-positive deer and several other suspect deer. Surveillance and testing of harvested deer is ongoing.

While it is still too early to know for sure, state officials are confident that the steps taken have greatly improved the chances of successfully eradicating the disease. -Tammi Jalowiec, DNR northwest regional information officer

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