MDC reminds hunters not to bait deer

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – November is a month when many Missourians are thinking of ways to ensure they will cross paths with deer on upcoming hunts. That makes now a good time for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to remind hunters about the state’s baiting regulations.

Missouri regulations prohibit the use of bait while hunting deer and other types of game. At this time of year, when deer hunting excitement is at its peak because of the upcoming November firearms deer season, MDC Southwest Regional Protection Captain Jason Dickey said it’s important to remind hunters of the strategy they should not attempt.

“Baiting is defined as grain or feed placed or scattered to attract deer so that it makes it easier for someone to harvest them,” Capt. Dickey said. “Corn is typically what we encounter, but other crop grains or food additives also qualify. Many people don’t realize that blocks resembling mineral or salt licks that contain grain or other food additives are considered bait and are prohibited for attracting deer to be hunted.” Sometimes foods such as apples or persimmons are used as bait, too. An area is considered to be baited for 10 days after food has been completely removed from that site.

Hunting ethics are at the core of Missouri’s baiting regulations. Habituating deer so they routinely congregate over a human-supplied food source is not in line with the principles of fair chase that ethical hunters try to adhere to.

The presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Missouri has created another reason why providing bait for deer is a bad idea. One of the ways this always fatal disease of cervid animals is transferred from one deer to another is through animal-to-animal contact, which can easily happen when deer congregate over bait.

“Baiting concentrates deer and increases the risk of spreading CWD,” Capt. Dickey said. “We want to do all we can to reduce the risk of spreading this disease. The value of a healthy deer herd is very important to Missouri.”

Capt. Dickey said education is an important tool in regards to the state’s baiting regulations.

“We’d prefer that people know why it’s not good for the health of our state’s deer population to use bait rather than our agents merely writing people tickets,” he said.

Capt. Dickey said citizens can contact their local conservation agent or call the Operation Game Thief Hotline – 1-800-392-1111 – to report instances of deer baiting or other hunting violations. Callers who use this toll-free number have the option to remain anonymous.

Missouri residents are also reminded that grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable products used to attract deer are prohibited year-round in counties that lie within the state’s CWD management zones. A list of those counties can be found on Page 7 of MDC’s “2020 Fall Deer & Turkey” regulations book, a free publication available at all places that sell hunting permits, at most MDC offices, and online at: