Threat of fines, gun seizure hasn't chilled the rampant practice.
A common way to illegally bait deer is to fill a plastic pipe with
corn, often anchored to a tree, that feeds out the grain as it is eaten.
More Minnesota deer hunters have been cited for illegally baiting
deer this fall than ever before.
And the problem remains pervasive among some hunters, despite stiff
fines, the threat of having their guns seized and possibly losing their
State conservation officers have issued 144 baiting citations and
have seized 134 guns and bows. And that likely is just the tip of the
"There's way more baiting going on than we're finding, I guarantee
said conservation officer Paul Kuske of Pierz, Minn. He and other
officers investigated 12 suspected baiting cases on opening day of the
firearms deer season in November. "We issued five citations, seven
warnings and seized five guns,'' Kuske said.
Department of Natural Resources officials say that while a small
minority of the state's 500,000 deer hunters place bait to attract deer,
it remains a rampant practice, and has been for the past five or six
"People are busier and want instant gratification,'' said Lt. Col.
Rod Smith of the DNR. "They want to go out and shoot a deer on opening
morning -- and they want a trophy.''
One Twin Cities area man has been cited for baiting deer at the same
hunting camp near Grand Marais three times since 2005, including this
"The first two times he just admitted to it and didn't really say
said conservation officer Darin Fagerman. "This time he's pleaded not
guilty and is denying he knew it was there.''
Baiting violators face about $400 in fines and court costs, and
confiscation of their hunting equipment. They can lose their hunting
privileges for three years if they have more than one serious violation
in three years.
And if they've shot a deer they baited, they face another $500 in
restitution -- $1,000 for a trophy animal.
Minnesota has banned deer baiting since 1991, though it is legal in
some states, including Wisconsin. Apples, corn and sugar beets are most
commonly used to attract deer.
Wildlife officials here say baiting -- and recreational deer feeding
-- can lead to concentrations of deer, making them more susceptible to
They also argue it disrupts normal deer movement, and violates "fair
"It's a disease issue, it's an ethical issue, it's a fairness
issue,'' said Kuske. "It creates an advantage over other hunters. The
great majority of [honest] hunters I deal with, they just shake their
heads. It's just not how you do things.''
And those legal hunters often get upset and report neighbors they
believe are baiting deer, Smith said. The increase in citations this
fall occurred despite no extra efforts by law enforcement, he said. "We
received a slight increase in complaints to our officers,'' he said.
Those caught baiting usually don't offer excuses, said Kuske.
"Baiting is a very intentional act,'' he said. "People plan it out.
They have to haul it to the woods and place it there. When you catch
someone, they don't usually have a lot to say.''
Proposals have been made in the past to ban deer feeding from Sept. 1
to Dec. 31, as a deterrent to deer baiting.
"We're very much in favor of that,'' said Mark Johnson, executive
director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. Currently people can
legally bait or feed deer, as long as the bait is removed at least 10
days before hunting occurs.
Johnson's group also supports increasing the restitution penalties
for poached deer.
Minnesota's regular firearms and muzzleloader deer seasons have
closed, but the archery deer season continues until Dec. 31.
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