Myth: Hunting over bait spreads CWD

Banning the use of bait stations or feeding areas has become a common strategy for state agencies attempting to manage CWD. Is it an effective approach? Does it prevent the spread of CWD?

Hunting over bait spreads CWD is not a full-fledged myth, but it’s not an entirely true statement either. The fact is no one knows.

Evidence suggests CWD can be spread at feeding sites, but the only research so far was done in pens with extremely high deer populations and that raises serious questions. Was it the abnormally high density that facilitated the spread of the disease or the act of feeding at the site. Would we have less or no spread of CWD with only four or five deer in the wild feeding over corn? Would the infection rate remain the same regardless of the number of deer and regardless of their surroundings?

Abundant evidence suggests that residual environmental contamination, probably via feces, urine, saliva or carcass debris, may play a more important role in disease transmission than direct animal-to-animal contact. Insects, such as ticks, are now considered a very possible cause as well.

The truth is that no one knows. We need more research to understand the correlation between feeding areas and CWD.

In the meantime, we can expect state agencies to play it safe by continuing to ban hunting over bait.