Mississippi Wildlife Federation
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MWF) expresses great concern over the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks proposed rule to allow the hunting of deer over supplemental feed and feeders, otherwise defined as baiting by the MWF.
For these purposes, we consider bait to include any food-stuff or ingestible material or attractant that has been deposited, planted, scattered, piled, or delivered by a passive or active feeder or feed delivery system so as to constitute an attractant, lure, or enticement to wildlife and to influence the movement of these animals for the purpose of harvest by hunters. We believe that to the legalization of hunting over bait will promote indiscriminate baiting that may include piling of bait, scattering on trails, or in concentrated locations without protection from the elements, etc. would have the following harmful implications:
• Jeopardize the tradition and sport of hunting in Mississippi
The use of bait is contrary to the spirit of fair chase. We believe allowing hunters to harvest game animals with the aid of bait will further widen the gaps between citizens who support and participate in the sport of hunting and the citizens who do not hunt but also do not oppose the sport. The non-hunting, as well as the anti-hunting publics, will view hunting with the aid of bait as unethical and inappropriate. This will serve only to further compromise our efforts to perpetuate and preserve our hunting tradition in the face of increasing public sentiment against the sport. Additionally, the use of bait by hunters may increase the incidence and severity of illegal harvest, including bag limit violations, gender and antler size violations. Such illegal harvest will have implications not only upon the property upon which the action takes place, but can have a detrimental effect upon surrounding properties that lie within the normal home range of the target animals. Such impacts could be detrimental to the management efforts of these adjoining landowners/managers.
• Create biological and wildlife population problems
The increased density of game animals at, or in the vicinity of, bait sites will increase the likelihood of wildlife disease transmission. The risk of disease transmission directly from the bait is well documented, as target and non-target wildlife ingest wet, moldy, or fungus-infected grain or other feedstuffs. Such acceleration in the speed and efficiency of disease transmission will affect many species, and can potentially result in epidemic situations in wildlife populations. Recent research demonstrating that the most effective transmission of prions that cause chronic wasting disease is through saliva is particularly troubling in the context of concentrating deer over artificial food sources or attractants. Additionally, baiting artificially increases mesopredator populations which could impact prey and game species through predation. Mesopredators may also increase the potential for human health impacts if populations spread into urban areas looking for food.
• Create habitat problems that pose significant threat to long-term sustainability of the wildlife and forest resources.
Supplemental feeding and baiting has the potential to artificially increase animal populations above natural carrying capacity of the habitat. Such artificially high populations invariably result in habitat degradation and, long-term, reduction in carrying capacity. Like the disease implications, the effects of habitat degradation will have a landscape level impact, and could affect a broad array of both plant and animal populations.
Since 1993, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation has been on record in opposition to the legalization of hunting over or with the assistance of bait. We reiterate that stance in our continued public opposition to the use of bait to aid in the harvest of game animals by hunters. The Federation cannot support passage of any regulation that would relax current law on hunting over bait.
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation bases its position on this and other natural resource issues solidly upon credible science and sound wildlife, fisheries, and natural resource management principles. We exhort the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to make the same commitment to responsible application of science-based principles of wildlife management and wildlife/human interactions.