Top Deer Biologist Bails Amid Big Bait Brouhaha

Politics and biology don’t always mesh like peanut butter and jelly, and sometimes that can have results that affect hunters in the long run.

The Deer Project leader for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks submitted his resignation days before the state’s politically-appointed wildlife commission relaxed a “line of sight” regulation for deer hunters using feeders.

Lann Wilf has taken a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services division. The story was reported by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Wilf told the newspaper he would not comment on whether the commission’s decision was his reason for resigning.

“I’m not going to comment on that publicly,” Wilf told the newspaper. “Let’s just leave it at that.”

Mississippi deer hunters previously could hunt near feeders, but the feeders had to be at least 100 yards away from the stand and out of the line of sight. The “out of sight” portion meant via natural terrain features or vegetation.

The commission removed that line of sight requirement, meaning Mississippi deer hunters now can hunt within sight of a feeder that still must be 100 yards from their stand but in plain view.

The Clarion-Ledger story pointed out that the change, and others, were approved by commissioners who are politically appointed businessmen and some, if not all of the changes, have been counter to the opinions of wildlife experts. 

Brian Murphy, executive director of the Quality Deer Management Association, said the situation in Mississippi isn’t exclusive to its wildlife department and appointed commission.

“Without question, partisan politics and backroom deals are playing increasingly significant roles in deer hunting and management throughout the country,” Murphy told the newspaper. “Never before has research, science and the opinions of trained wildlife professionals meant less.”

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