PERRY COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation has expanded its restrictions on feeding deer in response to finding cases of chronic wasting disease.
The seven counties added to the ban, which takes effect July 1, include Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Grundy, Madison, McDonald, Mercer and Perry.
Through their winter sampling process this year, supervisor AJ Hendershott with the Southeast Region of MDC says six new cases of the chronic wasting disease were confirmed in Sainte Genevieve County, and a deer shot and taken to a taxidermist in Perry County also died from the disease.
"When we get those positives, that initially sounds really bad, and I don't want to hear about more positives," Hendershott said. "But the good thing is when we do these winter operations we can get almost up to 50 percent with CWD off the landscape. It keeps the relevancy rate down to one or two percent."
Hendershott says expanding a ban on salt licks, grain and other deer attractants for certain areas is a tool to limit the deadly disease from spreading more.
The conservation agent says they put the restrictions in place because they want a healthy deer population and care about the future of deer hunting.
"A long time ago that may have been a way to grow our deer herd and improve their health, but now it's the opposite. when we do that the risk is far greater than the benefit," Hendershott said. "If a deer is going to lick off the same salt lick it has a much greater chance of exchanging saliva even if it's days apart. It reduces that congregation in one spot where they're going to potentially spread the CWD."
Hunter Allen Morris owns private land in Bollinger county and is mad about the feeding ban. He says putting out salt licks and corn are important tools he uses to manage the deer population on his property.
"You can Google population surveys, and you can't find any that don't deal with putting corn out. That is the number one tool," Morris said. "I've got six years worth of data for a population survey. That six years worth of data as of July 1st is gone. I can't use it anymore because there are so many dynamic factors coming about."
The Department of Conservation has also increased the number of antler-less deer permits for the seven counties that have the new feeding ban, which Morris believes could negatively impact the doe population for years to come.
"We are bearing the load and it will be generations effected by it," Morris said. "They didn't say this is going to be a two year thing, a five year thing, a ten year thing."
Hendershott is also reminding hunters when they're done harvesting a deer to leave it's carcus where it was shot because moving it can also spread Chronic Wasting Disease.
"If you do bring it somewhere else make sure you deposit it in a landfill if at all possible," Hendershott said. "If we limit the spread of any carcus we really eliminate future cases and future counties being added to the list for CWD management."
You can click here for more information on the feeding ban.
According to the department, there were 41 existing counties in its CWD Management Zone where feeding deer and placing minerals for deer is restricted. The zone consists of counties in or near where cases of the disease have been found.
According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, the placement of grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer is prohibited year-round within counties of the CWD Management Zone.
Exceptions are feed placed within 100 feet of any home or occupied building, feed placed in such a manner to reasonably exclude access by deer and feed and minerals present solely as a result of normal agricultural or forest management, or crop and wildlife food production practices.
For the seven new counties, MDC also increased the availability of antlerless permits and expanded the firearms antlerless portion to help harvest more deer in the counties and limit the spread of the disease.
MDC confirmed 33 new cases of CWD following the testing of nearly 24,500 free-ranging Missouri deer through its sampling and testing efforts last season.
Those new cases were found in Adair, Cedar, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair and Ste. Genevieve Counties.