I’ve been involved with CWD management since 2007. I continue to educate myself on all things CWD. I was part of the states CWD stakeholders advisory board and learned a great deal about the science of CWD. We were given many scientific presentations from the states researchers that continue to study CWD. In terms of baiting and food plots. Here is what one of the states lead researchers said.
Dr. Aiken said “prions tended to bind to clay in soil and to persist indefinitely. When deer graze on infected dirt, prions that are tightly bound to clay will persist for long periods in their intestinal regions. So there is no chance chronic wasting disease will be eradicated, he said. Outside the laboratory, nothing can inactivate prions bound to soil. They are also impervious to radiation.”
This holds equally true for bait piles and bait plots. If you are a hunter providing food to advantage you and your hunter supplied deer goodies congregate deer, you share an equal responsibility of spreading CWD by congregating deer to a location over and over and over. Food plots tend to stay in the same spot every year. Congregating deer for your advantage as a hunter means each year, the soil becomes more and more infected by you congregating deer with your bait plots. But what does this mean to infectivity??
Dr. Joel Pederson in his studies and research discovered that CWD prions bound to soil were 700% more infective to deer than muzzle to muzzle deer exchanges. So, what the end result?
1. Both bait piles and bait plots congregate deer.
2. Deer are constantly shedding prions
3. Once in the soil, CWD prions remain for more than a decade
4. Once in the soil, CWD prions are more infective to deer than deer to deer exchanges.
5. If you are sincere about getting rid of baiting as a vector for CWD transmission, you have to agree that all forms of baiting must stop including food plots. If you do not, you are either not really sincere and could be labeled a hypocrite that wants to use CWD to ban a form a baiting you disapprove of and retain a method of bating you approve of and are burying your head in Prion infected sand.
Now, with that said and based on years of study of CWD, do I think banning baiting in any form will have an effect on CWD eradication or reduction?? Nope. Baiting didn’t bring CWD to WI, banning baiting will not be a source for a cure as proven by 10 years of bait banns in the CWDMZ. It’s a feel good measure that makes man fell like he is at least doing something even if what he is doing is useless and meaningless.
This from the DNR web site.
"feeding practices likely alter deer movement patterns as well as increase the carrying capacity for deer in Wisconsin. These factors complicate deer management. increasing deer carrying capacity through artificial food increases deer production and survival while mitigating the limiting effects of a harsh winter. Another negative effect is that of deer distribution. Deer are often drawn by artificial feed into residential clusters or posted property resulting in patchy distribution of deer which often causes hunters to question population estimates and to resist herd reduction efforts.Artificially high deer populations supported by feeding magnify the breadth and depth of deer impacts. Numerous ecological studies have shown that supplemental feeding of deer increases diet quality and quantity, which subsequently increases winter survival rates, population productivity, and hence rapid deer population growth (Brown and Cooper 2006). It can be expected that carrying capacity for deer would increase as energy (food) was added to the system."
While on the CWD stakeholders advisory board, I shared emails with the (then) DNR secretary Matt Frank. During one of our email exchanges about food plots and CWD, he responded with this.
“You raise legitimate points that have not been thoroughly considered. Let me assure you that DNR staff do not support using food plots to attract deer.”
“The experts you wrote and my staff concur that baiting, feeding and food plots can all attract deer to a particular area than if food was not present.”
“We believe the risk of spreading disease is greatest when bait and feed are repeatedly place in a specific area.”
“ If credible studies show a clear correlation between the use of food plots and the spread of disease, my staff will recommend an appropriate response.”
So why are food plots not banned? Because it would be too hard. The state would be in constant litigation with those claiming their bait plot was a garden as a way to skirt the law. Essentially, they would ignore the law to their own personal advantage and then claim it was legitimate ag and the DNR would go broke in the courts. They cant ban food plots (currently) not because they don’t want to, they just understand the litigious nature of people.