Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today reminded Michigan residents that supplemental feeding of deer is against the law in every Michigan county. There are no exceptions to this regulation, which was enacted by the Natural Resources Commission on May 16, 2003.
Supplemental feeding concentrates deer in a relatively small area and can facilitate the transmission of disease. Although supplemental feeding does not cause disease, the potential for disease transmission is much higher at these feeding sites due to increased animal-to-animal contact. Various diseases can spread when healthy deer come in contact with the saliva, urine, droppings, or the breath of infected animals.
Although no contagious disease like bovine tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease has yet been detected in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, disease pathologists and epidemiologists agree that supplemental feeding poses a high risk for the spread of disease should one become established. The ban of supplemental feeding is aimed at proactively preventing any spread of disease that may occur throughout Michigan.
Diseases such as TB and CWD can devastate a deer herd by causing the death of infected animals, but even more is at stake. The northeast portion of the Lower Peninsula is losing an estimated $25 million in tourism revenue each year due to the TB outbreak among deer in that area. To date, five dairy herds and 25 beef cattle herds in the Lower Peninsula have been infected with TB and subsequently eliminated, causing a large loss to the farming community and the state. In southern Wisconsin, where CWD has become established in the deer herd, large-scale reduction of the deer population has been initiated to contain its spread.
Recreational feeding of deer is allowed under current regulations as long as deer do not have access to more than two gallons of scattered food at any one time and the food is within 100 yards of a residence and at least 100 yards from livestock.