If you take the time to study CWD, deer to deer transmission is not the issue. Nose to nose means very little compared to nose to earth. It's the urine and feces that build up in the soil when deer return to the same plot or pile. Read my first post to gain a better understanding of what is taking palce
First I didn't know CWD was the only disease we are concerned about. Second contact with contaminated soil, feces, and urine is still going to be greater when you concentrate animals in a small space (bait pile) even when compared to a 1/2 to 3/4 acre
food plot. To better understand what is taking place I found a few facts about disease transmition and baiting.
-High concentrations of deer around feeding and baiting sites facilitate disease transmission through increased animal-to-animal contact and possibly through contamination of feed (Palmer et al. 2001, Schmitt et al. 2002).
-White-tailed deer receiving artificial feed in Maine have suffered from outbreaks of demodectic mange caused by the spread of mites while at feeding stations (Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 2002, see www.state.me.us/ifw/hunt/deerfeed.htm
-Winter feeding of white-tailed deer can lead to starvation of some individuals if the feeding delays the migration of deer to their winter yards, or if artificial feeding is terminated abruptly (Ozoga and Verme 1982).
-Recent epidemiological research suggests that baiting and feeding of deer enabled the TB outbreak in Michigan to persist and spread and that declines in TB prevalence were associated with a ban on baiting and feeding (O'Brien et al 2002).
-Large quantities of grain, or the sudden ingestion of feed high in carbohydrates without acclimation results in acidic conditions in a deer's rumen (stomach). This kills the bacteria necessary for digestion and causes bloating, diarrhea, enteritis, and in extreme cases death. The visible affects on deer include lameness, arthritis, and a decrease in appetite (Lyons 2000). This condition reportedly occurs yearly in Michigan (Mich. DNR 1999). During a severe winter in Saskatchewan 30% of the deer found dead near cattle feedlots were diagnosed with lactic acidosis (Wobster and Runge 1975). Deer have been found dead and suffering due to this condition in Wisconsin, but the widespread affect is not known (Langenberg 2001).
Let's not leave out the non target species of baiting, since there is other wildlife out there other than deer.
-Clark et al., (1996) warned that increased nutrition of predators through supplemental feeding could lead to increased productivity, survival and, ultimately, increased populations of predators in the habitat.
-Neal Wilkins found that 40% of a sampling of 100 bags of deer corn sold in Texas last year (2000) had levels of aflatoxin that were illegal, and 20% had levels that would be toxic to birds and other non-target species, as well as deer if consumed over a long period of time.
-Wild Rio Grande turkeys typically nest within 400m of water and 840m of tall roosting trees (Ransom et al., 1987). Similar habitat also is attractive to raccoons (Rabinowitz and Pelton, 1986). Placing deer feeders at such sites is likely to attract raccoons and other nest predators and increase predation pressure on turkeys and other ground-nesting birds.
-(Cooper and Ginnett, 2000) We tested the hypothesis that supplemental feeding of deer on rangelands may negatively impact populations of wild turkeys and other ground nesting birds by concentrating potential nest predators, such as raccoons and skunks, near feeders. Each April for 3 consecutive years, we monitored the survival rates of 200 artificial nests (consisting of 3 chicken eggs per nest) placed in 4 areas with and without supplemental deer feed. Ground nests in the vicinity of feeders were at greater risk of discovery by predators (86%) than were nests in areas where supplemental feed was not available (58.5%). During 1999 we again observed higher predation rates at sites with feeders. Raccoons and striped skunks were the most abundant nest predators. We recommend that managers concerned with wild turkey and quail production should avoid placing deer feeders in nesting habitat and/or should cease supplemental feeding during the nesting season .