DNR looking for illegal baiting during gun deer opener - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

DNR looking for illegal baiting during gun deer opener

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- The woods will be full of orange in the morning. 

Saturday is the gun deer opener and the DNR wants to alert area hunters to be on the lookout for an illegal activity.

"People that bait illegally are certainly going to have an advantage over those that don't," says Game Warden Dave Zebro.

Zebro say illegal baiting in Wisconsin woods continues to be a problem.  Some hunters will do whatever they can to get an advantage.

"We have had those folks who have put tarps or some type of camo cloth over the top of the bait," Zebro explains.  "So if we are going to be flying with our airplane to do some aerial surveillance, they would be very difficult to see from the air.  And then putting it under Evergreen trees and those types of things are some of the tactics that people are trying to use so they are not apprehended for using illegal bait."

Much of the state is under baiting restrictions, which means you can't use more than two gallons of feed per hunting site.  Baiting bans were put in place in Washburn, Polk, Burnett and Barron Counties earlier this year.  That means hunters can't use feed at all in those counties. 

"With the rut coming on and the gun deer season coming on, we are starting to see more illegal bait placed on the landscape," Zebro points out.

Baiting was made illegal because the DNR says deer gather around small food pilings, which can lead to the spread of CWD through close contact with urine, feces or saliva.  A registration center in the Shell Lake area saw similar problems last year. 

"I personally know of people that actually just dump a 50-pound bag of feed in one spot, which I know is illegal.  They just dump it in one spot to attract a herd of deer," says Charles Mortensen, who works at a store that sells feed.

The DNR has made it easier you to report violations in the woods.  In fact, all you need is your smart phone.  You can text an on-duty warden from your tree stand without alerting deer to where you are hiding, and the warden can check out the problem.

"Our wardens depend on tips," explains DNR Spokesman Ed Culhane.  "The standard tip line, which has been very successful in Wisconsin is 1-800-TIP-WDNR.  It's confidential.  There's always a warden on the other end that you can talk to."

"Our warden service will obviously be out in full force on opening weekend," Zebro says.  "I'm sure we'll be getting some complaints and we'll be following up on those and trying to address those when we get them."

The DNR says it has given out dozens of illegal baiting citations in Wisconsin this year.  The fine is about $350. 

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