DEC announces change to deer feeding regs

Portland Press Herald photo

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced the adoption of a regulation changing rules concerning feeding of deer and moose.

DEC says the change will reduce problems caused by wildlife feeding and establish strict procedures for the use of tick-control devices designed to treat deer. The rule prohibits the intentional and incidental feeding of deer and moose and requires labeling on deer feed stating its illegal to use in NY.

Commissioner Seggos said, “Prohibiting the feeding of wild deer and moose is a best management approach to reduce risks associated with communicable wildlife diseases like chronic wasting disease, minimize conflicts with deer, and protect wildlife habitat.”

DEC first prohibited deer feeding in 2002 in response to the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on the premise that concentrating deer at feeding sites increases the risk of disease transmission.

Those who may be quick to criticize DEC’s current actions changing feeding and other regulations to combat CWD, need to consider the following:

DEC is the ONLY state agency in the nation to have successfully eradicated CWD after infected deer were found in the wild.

In 2005, DEC’s Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and Wildlife Biologists, and veterinarians from NY Ag and Markets formed and deployed a task force to proactively search for the early detection or incidence of CWD in NY.

The task force found CWD infected deer at deer farms that contaminated deer in the wild in Central NY. Addressing the problem early likely prevented a CWD epidemic. DEC took quick, bold, and decisive action by immediately reducing the herd in the small affected area near Rome, NY.

That plus more than a decade of statewide testing and surveillance plus prohibiting import of certain cervid parts from infected states has kept CWD out of NYS to this very day.

Now, DEC cites other negative impacts associated with deer feeding that necessitated the change to a broader feeding prohibition.

The new regulation provides a clearer definition of what does and does not constitute illegal feeding of deer or moose. They provide exemptions for wildlife plantings, agricultural practices, livestock husbandry, and research and nuisance abatement.

“It clarifies that incidental feeding such as the attraction of deer or moose to a birdfeeder will only be considered a violation if DEC has previously issued a written warning to the person responsible for the incidental feeding.”

“To reduce the sale and marketing of products that are illegal to use and to protect consumers from being misled, the new regulation requires retail products packaged for sale as food or edible attractants for wild deer or moose to carry a label clearly stating that such use is illegal in New York.”

The new regulation addresses the mixed message sent when hunters enter stores filled with massive stocks of deer feed even though proprietors know full well it is illegal to bait or feed deer in NY. Now a distinct label must be posted on feed marketed to attract deer advising them of its illegal use in the state.

A key reason for the current change to deer feeding regulations as stated in DEC’s Regulatory Impact Statement, was that enforcement of the prior feeding prohibition was neutralized a legal precedent set by the Sullivan County Supreme Court.

That case struck down the old reg causing law enforcement officers to be confronted by local justices who refused to consider deer feeding cases based on the prior Sullivan County court decision. This prompted DEC to promulgate a regulation they feel will withstand legal challenges.

The only effective feeding regulation ECOs had to work with until the current adoption, prohibited the placement of any substance to attract or entice deer to feed within 300 feet of a public highway. Now, that can be enforced in concert with the new general deer feeding prohibition.

If you would like further details of the changes, the full text of the new regulation is on the DEC website.

Happy New Year and Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.

Save the Date: February 15, 2020

The Catskill Mountain F&G Club/Stony Clove F&G Club Youth Ice Fishing Derby

The date for this event is scheduled for Saturday, February 15; ice conditions permitting.

Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. with youth fishing from 10 a.m.-noon. There will be prizes for all kids attending, plus refreshments will be available. For more information call Bob Monteleone at 518-488-0240.

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

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