Frequently Made Comments about Baiting
- Everyone in Mississippi is baiting and feeding game wildlife species. Many sportsmen have retained the Fair Chase ethic and are educated concerning the potential disease problems associated with baiting and
feeding wildlife and have chosen not to jeopardize the sport they love.
- There is no proof that baiting or feeding causes any disease problems. There are well over 100 references in the literature linking various wildlife disease epidemics to baiting and artificial feeding. The classic example is the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis in white-tailed deer and elk in Michigan, which was directly linked to baiting and feeding of deer and elk. Baiting causes deer to congregate more closely than normal, increasing contact among animals and encouraging the spread of diseases shed in feces, saliva and other excretions. Diseases or infections that might be spread:
- Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious disease of cattle that can be spread from animals to humans and can lead to death.
- Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an infectious disease that leads to death. CWD is spread by deer ingesting the infected feces or from saliva from an infected deer.
- Demodectic mange causes hair loss and lesions to the infected animal.
- Parasitism is the transmission of harmful parasites of deer including lungworms and stomach worms increases when deer are concentrated.
- The majority of states already allow baiting and artificial feeding.
As of July 2003, 28 states (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and West Virginia have bans on the baiting of game wildlife species. Twenty-six states had total bans on baiting of game wildlife species and at least two more states, the latest being New York in 2003 have banned baiting since 1999.
- It is more cost-effective to bait than to manage habitat.
Michigan State University estimated that the TB epidemic in Michigan caused by baiting and feeding cost producers $156 million in lost livestock and forage revenues, aside from the significant loss of wildlife resources and the recreational value of hunting.
- Baiting does not cause diseases or loss of other wildlife.
A study showed that a random sample of deer corn purchased at different vendors in Texas found that of 100 bags purchased, 40% had higher that legal levels of levels of aflatoxin for livestock and human consumption. Aflatoxin is produced by fungi that develops on corn, soybeans, peanuts, and other grains. Aflatoxins are harmful or fatal to livestock and are considered carcinogenic. In high levels aflotoxin can kill or cause diseases in wild turkeys, quail, songbirds and small mammals.
Turkeys are attracted to bait and predators soon take advantage of this situation. An Alabama biologist observed six predator-killed turkey carcasses over the course of one summer around wildlife feeders.
- Feeding corn helps deer.
Enterotoxemia is a disease of deer that is caused from them overeating corn and other grain used to bait them. It affects the microflora in their rumen causing diarrhea, enteritis, and often death aside from its negative impacts on other non-target wildlife species.
- Baiting and feeding do not create problems for other wildlife species.
Mycoplasma, avian pox, blackhead, and numerous other diseases are often transmitted in wild turkeys and other birds and animals from corn or other bait placed for the admitted purpose of hunting deer.
Research shows that ground nests in the vicinity of bait stations have a greater risk of discovery by predators than nests in areas where bait stations do not occur
In addition over-browsing near bait sites results in the destruction of habitat. As population densities increase at these baiting areas, the pressure on the surrounding habitat increases. In many cases baiting deer has created populations that exceed what the environment can maintain. Deer eating at bait stations will over-browse native vegetation in the area as well. They select the better quality plants and cause an increase in plant species that have little or no wildlife value. The amount and type of plant species are negatively affected by the concentrated foraging of a baited deer population. In addition, high concentrations of deer around bait stations alter the local habitat which leads to changes in the composition of co-existing bird populations; including a decrease in abundance and diversity of songbirds.
- We have not had any disease problems in our deer herd in Mississippi.
Anthrax was detected in Leflore, Sunflower and Tallahatchie counties in the summer of 1991. Bluetongue and other hemorrhagic diseases do occur periodically across the state and occasionally cause serious deer population declines.