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Through the Lens

Deer Feeding Bill Passes Senate with Multiple Changes from Original

Wed, May 02, 2018

The amended version of SB 2493 passed the Senate on Tuesday with only one NO vote. This version of SB2493 is substantially different from the introduced version. The amendment removed all original language, removed references to the Fish and Wildlife Code and instead moved the amendment to the University of Illinois Act.
The now engrossed bill states:

“AN ACT concerning wildlife. 
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly: Section 5 The University of Illinois Act is amended by adding Section 13 as follows:
(110 ILCS 305/13 new)
Sec. 13. Supplemental deer food; study. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, subject to appropriation and in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources, shall conduct a study for a period of at least 2 years of the health effects of supplemental deer feeding on the wild deer population and whether supplemental feeding affects the spread of any communicable diseases within the deer population. The study shall also designate geographic locations where the practice of supplemental deer feeding may be beneficial. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine shall submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly in a report no more than 60 days after the completion of the study. The report to the General Assembly shall be filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate in electronic form only, in the manner that the Clerk and the Secretary shall direct.”

When asked who or what organizations brought this initiative to Rose for introduction, he only answered that it was his constituents and his district serves a large number of avid deer hunters who have been concerned with the health of the herd and feel strongly that allowing supplemental feeding will help to enhance the health of the IL herd.

While opponents were not successful in getting the supplemental feeding bill stopped completely, bill sponsor Chapin Rose felt this was a good compromise to a long-standing debate about the need for and safety of supplemental feeding in CWD positive state. “I took the amendment to DNR before filing, and they weighed in as neutral.” said Rose. It is unclear exactly how much input DNR had in the current language or crafting of the amendment. During the NRAB meeting on April 30 IDNR director Rosenthal explained that IDNR remains opposed to supplemental feeding but is indeed neutral on the proposed study.

When asked about what seemed like such urgency in crafting the amendment and getting it passed this session Rose explained that was due to legislative session deadlines, and the hopes of getting it through the senate, on to the house and having the issue settled by the end of this session. “I’ve been trying for two years to get this done, but IDNR has remained steadfast in their opposition.” Said Rose.

Rose explained this was a way to insure the issue was studied properly, through a university research program system, with appropriate checks and balances, ethics, and by one of the top veterinary schools in the nation.  The mechanics of the study, the researchers who will be doing it – all will be determined by the team performing the research.  Rose expressed that science should be handled by the science and research community rather than the legislators. “We have one of the best research Universities at U of I – but I would be open to hearing from other universities or agencies who would be interested.”

It seems unusual that a research study/project be mandated by legislative process, a concern that was echoed by those in the academic and research world. While not un heard of, it’s rather unusual. Usually a research project is designed, and proposal made, requests for funding are made and awarded based on the merits of the individual study. In this case, it seems a bit of a reverse of the process.

It does appear that perhaps the amendment gets the cart before the horse, and that perhaps a better study would be to determine the nutritional status of the herd first, to identify if a problem exists before identifying the solution. Do IL wild white tails truly need supplemental feeding due to any nutritional deficiencies? Rose indicated that by allowing the supplemental feeding, deer would be able to better withstand disease should they become exposed, so essentially that’s one of the things the study would help to determine.

When asked about concerns given the fact that there are volumes of research that indicate supplemental feeding does spread disease, and this could have a negative impact regarding the spread of CWD throughout the state. Rose said “Deer are social animals. They are still going to congregate and feed together. Supplemental feeding would give them health benefits that could help them to be healthier and better withstand disease exposure.  Illinois CWD cases have grown exponentially without supplemental feeding.”  (Per IDNR Prevalence rates have remained low and changed little over time since discovery of CWD in 2002, but there is a slowly increasing trend in recent years, most notably for adult males. The overall prevalence rate remains steady at less than 3%) When reviewing the prevalence rate data, it could hardly be called exponential growth.

The Illinois CWD program is considered a successful program, and often cited a model approach to the control and spread of CWD.

When asked about specific language in the bill, such as why only U of I and why legislatively mandate a wildlife study, what would be the mechanics of the study, etc. – Rose said “This isn’t the final product, it’s a work in progress and we will be working on some of those specifics going forward. The language is likely to change somewhat, and I am open to discussing those changes.”

Rose remained adamant that the study would not be funded by taxpayer dollars, nor by any of the supplemental feed companies. Although the actual funding sources have yet to be determined, the study is contingent upon appropriation. 

While many opponents see this a defeat, it does provide for the study of supplemental feeding and its effects on the Illinois herd. The data gleaned from this study could put this issue to rest once and for all in Illinois. The downside is at this point no one really knows what the actual project will entail, how it will be funded, and it seems risky to allow supplemental feeding, even in a controlled research setting in a state with CWD.

There are volumes of research regarding the supplemental feeding of deer, the contribution of supplemental feeding to the spread of disease, and other negative impacts. Rose maintains that the use of supplemental feeding will provide an over all net positive for the herd and that the good from supplemental feeding will over ride what little negative impact there may be.

The question was posed to Rose that many of the opponents feel that this has more to do with supplemental feed companies, and hunters that wanted to use the products to produce larger racks, bigger bucks regardless of any risk. Some even seeing this a stepping stone to at some point in the future allowing hunting over bait. Rose was very adamant that this was solely to address the overall health of the Illinois herd, and insuring that citizens in Illinois had every advantage available to maintain the health of the herd.

As Rose frequently stated – this is a work in progress, not the finished product. Both proponents and opponents still have 4 weeks of the house session to make changes, find areas of compromise, hammer out specific details, such as funding, the mechanics of the study, and who and how it would be conducted.

Until the bill is finalized and taken to the floor for a House vote, concerned deer hunters, wildlife managers, all parties will have to be content with a wait and see approach and follow the bill as it progresses.

The bill can be followed here.




Illinois deer are “nutritionally starving”?  Good grief, Illinois has some of the most fertile ground in the United States.  I’m sure UofI, which is in Rose’s district, won’t mind getting the grant money.  Don’t kid yourself, this is all about hunters wanting to hunt over bait piles.

Posted by buckbull on May 03

How and why do you create a program study if there is no money to fund it, somehow I believe the taxpayer will fund it along with those that have a financial interest in its outcome. More waste here.

Posted by BIGPOND on May 03

Buckbull, it’s not so they can hunt over bait. It’s so they can grow 200” racks. I understand the value of supplemental minerals on buck recovery and doe reproduction and it has some merit but the main factor is that they want to add inches of antler.

Posted by chrismaring on May 03

I think any of us with half a brain know what’s really driving this. It just seems nuts to me to allow supplemental feeding in a state that has CWD. Granted, it’s in the northern tier, but the new cases in MO are far too close for comfort for those of us in southern IL. Really - is a big rack worth the risk? I think not.

Posted by G on May 03

Buckbull you beat me to it…. the U of I has been selected as place to study the by Senator Rose himself AND it just happens to be in his district.
Senator Rose doesn’t know where the millions of dollar$ to come study this will come from but he assures us the will not be from taxpayer…....BS
But we can be assured all the money will stay in his district thanks to Roses guidance….
This bill was all about the deer industry making more $$$$$$$$.
Now it is also morphing into a way to fund Rose’s prize university with million$ of more money.
Now the taxpayers AND the IL deer herd both lose again…..

Posted by Lynn on May 03

Oh ya…..Senator Rose is a U of I alumni and his district office happens to be in Champaign IL.

Posted by Lynn on May 03

Lynn - you hit the nail on the head. Suffice it to say my conversation with the Senator was a bit of a “lively discussion”. All I can say is, we just have to hammer our State Reps and hope the House shows good judgement.

Posted by G on May 04

That is just it Gretch, there is no good judgment when it comes to our IL politics any more. 6-10-15 years ago, you could talk some sense into some of the Senator & Reps and we could stop bad bills. But 4-5 years ago things changed. If there were big money lobbyists behind a bill, it was a done deal. No one would talk and actually listen to us non-profit orgs. We were simply wasting our time.
Our IDNR quit listening to anyone too….
They simply did what the big wigs there said and they are only most money driven too.
One good take away on this bill, our IDNR is now getting to know what it feels like to have their opinions totally disregarded.
Our IDNR opposed this bill & it passed the Senate with a 50-1 vote…
I have asked this question several times lately….can anyone remember the last bill that actually helped the IL deerherd ????
The sad thing is nobody else can either….. 8^(


Posted by Lynn on May 04

Baiting-In Illinois the whole idea of baiting to me just seems silly !! I mean what is the need ?? The honest take is in the state of Illinois there is corn, and soybeans on every corner, or at least within the abilities of a deer to find ,and feed upon. The ability to grow just about any food plot makes it even more of a silly idea, so I see no need for the effort.

With the ability in Illinois to grow just about any food plot, then supplement feeding seems possible by via just a little work. The pour it out the bag approach to supplement feeding should only be used in cases of emergency. My opinion !!

I don’t buy the whole idea baiting is spreading CWD. The state of Texas had its first cases of CWD in 2012, and they were in west Texas in mule deer, and one elk. That said, people have been feeding, and baiting deer back to the early 1940’s. I find it very funny a state with the largest deer population didn’t have a case of CWD until 2012, and having allowed baiting, and feeding for that long of a period of time. Yes there have been other case, but in captive deer I believe, and the state of Texas has set up certain regulations, and monitoring stations in selected areas of the state. The big question has to be with such questionable practices in place, and for such a long period of time, why no cases of CWD until 2012 ?? 

I think baiting, and supplement feeding in Illinois are silly endeavors, but not in every state, or in certain conditions. I think we need to look deeper into what is causing CWD, and take a good look at what has changed over the last few decades, and see how that has effected our deer herds overall.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on May 05

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Ag and Conservation committee on 5/15 - so if you feel the need to file a witness slip - now is the time to get them filed.

Posted by G on May 10

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