The primary intended goals of the baiting/feeding restrictions on Anderson-Tully lands include protecting the local wild deer herd and reducing the spread of disease, (any disease, not just CWD). The effects of baiting and feeding include artificially increased natural populations which may be sustained beyond carrying capacity and in turn alter deer behavior. Bait and feed placed on the landscape, even in limited quantities, often attracts unnatural numbers of deer. Deer are often concentrated at a single bait or feed site, or even between several sites in close proximity – thus allowing for increased contact that would otherwise not occur in natural feeding environments. Both direct contact (healthy deer to a contaminated deer) and indirect contact (deer to a contaminated environment) increases as a result of baiting and feeding. Unnatural concentrations of deer and contact rates caused by baiting and feeding increase the risk of CWD and other disease infections and transmissions.
Baiting and feeding deer can change behavior patterns, drawing deer away from natural feeding and bedding locations. High concentrations of deer due to feeding or baiting, in turn may cause over-browsing which limits forest regeneration, increase crop damage, and impact local vegetation and increase contact among different wildlife species causing increased competition and stress among deer and other species using the feed site.
Bait and feed are different than food plots because artificial feed/bait is continually replaced when baiting or feeding. Food plots also typically cover a much larger area where the food source is more spread out and once consumed, it is not replaced over and over again. Peer-reviewed scientific publications reinforce the prudency of enacting baiting and feeding restrictions in order to protect the local wild deer herd. There are numerous studies supporting the increased risks of disease transmission in areas of baiting and feeding.
Research suggests there is strong scientific evidence that CWD-positive deer can shed infectious material into the environment, and that disease can be transmitted through contact with contaminated materials, including soil. These studies provide evidence that CWD prions, when shed into the environment, pose a significant, persistent risk to other deer.
Rather than try to attract deer closer to a stand, it may be best to locate stands near known travel corridors, as well as naturally occurring food sources (e.g., acorns, pecans, persimmons, locust beans) that are produced by natural vegetation. Another option is vegetation planted and left standing in wildlife food plots, as long as they are solely a result of normal agricultural or gardening practices. Important minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen can be spread over the plot as fertilizer.
Because of the ability to spread the disease through transportation of carcasses, an effort should be made to leave the most disease bearing parts on the area of harvest. Brains, internal organs, bones, spine, and spinal cords should be left on site, preferably buried in a pit, or at least left in a designated area on the property of harvest. It is best not to cut into bones, spinal columns or spinal cords. Instead of cutting bones, legs and hips, they can be severed at joints. Carcasses that are carried off the site for processing should be carried to a processer that disposes carcasses appropriately. Carcasses carried home for processing should, once processed, be returned to the area of harvest. Do not throw carcasses on other person’s property; that just increases the likelihood of infection.
Heads that are to be mounted should be carried to local taxidermists. Skulls that will be mounted can be boiled on site. Antlers can be removed and the brain cavity soaked with a 50% solution of household bleach. This same solution can be used on knives and tools, plus used to clean off benches and tables.
Jawbones are an integral part of deer management. They should be removed from the head and cleaned by removing tissue. To decrease movement of jawbones, we will try to visit clubs to age jawbones and discard aged jawbones on site, especially trying not to send jawbones by mail across state lines unless absolutely necessary. This may require collecting jawbones in a central location, especially within association of clubs, to age them rather than mailing them.