Bill Would Allow Supplemental Feeding in Illinois

Illinois deer hunters have long yearned for the opportunity to utilize the myriad of products marketed to deer hunters. Using these products is legal in many other states but in Illinois it is illegal to use them but legal to sell them.

Illinois State Senator Chapin Rose has introduced legislation that would allow the use of mineral and feed products outside of hunting season in Illinois on private property only. SB-2493 will be heard and voted on by the senate ag committee on April 12.

While finer details of the legislation would have to be worked out upon its passage, it should be noted that this is not an attempt to make baiting legal for Illinois deer hunters. Instead it is an effort to legalize the use of deer nutritional products on private property only and only outside of legal hunting season.

The passage of this legislation would benefit many other groups besides deer hunters and in fact would benefit the state of Illinois itself with increased tax revenue from the manufacture and sale of minerals, feed, feeders and other related products. Retailers would also benefit from sales of these products. Illinois farmers would benefit from decreased crop damage as a deer eating from a feeder is a deer that is not feeding in a crop field. Also, many of the products that are fed to deer are made from ag commodities such as corn and soybeans.

With so many positives that could result from passage of this legislation one would think passage would be little more than a formality. There is one big hurdle standing squarely in the way however … IDNR! That’s right; Illinois DNR has already voiced its opposition to the bill citing concerns regarding the spread of disease, specifically CWD, as deer are attracted to feeding locations.

To my knowledge there is no scientific evidence supporting IDNRs position and in fact many professional wildlife biologists have even taken the opposite position. Whitetail deer are extremely social animals that regularly lick and groom each other. Any experienced deer hunter knows that every deer in an area will share a “licking branch” wherein they all chew and lick on the same low-hanging branch as a way of communicating. Sharing a feeding location is not likely to increase the spread of disease as these same deer are already closely interacting in a variety of other ways.

To further negate the IDNRs position on this issue, consider that IDNR already allows the importation of deer into Illinois from other states. That’s right; the agency which is against feeding the deer we already have in Illinois because of concerns over the spreading of disease has no concerns with bringing foreign deer into the state to co-mingle with the deer that are already here!

For the record, I am not saying that bringing these foreign deer into the state is or is not a disease concern, that is not my point at all. My point is, how in the world can one justify not feeding the deer that are already in the state because of “disease concerns” and yet be OK with importing foreign deer? This situation leaves a gaping hole in IDNRs opposition to supplemental feeding.

Supplemental feeding and captive deer have become the scape-goats of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) issue. What the average deer hunter or citizen often fails to realize is that there is no scientific evidence to back this political position. CWD was actually first documented at and probably started in a government research facility at Fort Collins, Colorado. Some government agencies have used the opportunity to take away landowner rights by shutting down captive deer farms in some states and making supplemental feeding illegal in others. Illinois DNR has taken the strange stance that importing captive deer from other states is OK but feeding the deer that are already in the state is wrong, citing concerns about the spread of CWD as the basis for their position.

To further erode IDNRs position, one must consider that science has created a new breed of nutritional products specifically for deer to help increase their health and potentially their ability to overcome disease issues. These products have shown great promise in independent trials and continue to evolve as the science used in the livestock industry is being utilized to address wild whitetails.

For Illinois deer hunters it really boils down to this: Senate Bill 2493 which will be heard on April 12 is probably the best opportunity we will ever have that will allow us to provide our deer with the cutting edge nutritional supplementation that is so commonly used in other states. To be bluntly honest, passage of this bill is not likely unless Illinois deer hunters in HUGE numbers take the opportunity to contact the legislators on the Senate Ag Committee before April 12.

If you are interested in seeing deer minerals and other nutritional products become legal in Illinois, I strongly encourage you to call and write (do both!) every single legislator on this list and politely and respectfully ask them to vote in favor of Senate Bill 2493.

Senator Napoleon Harris – (217) 782-8066

Senator 15th District
M122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Scott M. Bennett – (217) 782-2507

Senator 52nd District
218B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Thomas Cullerton – (217) 782-9463

Senator 23rd District
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Bill Cunningham – (217) 782-5145

Senator 18th District
311B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Linda Holmes – (217) 782-0422

Senator 42nd District
129 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator David Koehler – (217) 782-8250

Senator 46th District
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Andy Manar – (217) 782-0228

Senator 48th District
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Neil Anderson – (217) 782-5957

Senator 36th District
M103D Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Dale Fowler – (217) 782-5509

Senator 59th District
M103F Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Wm. Sam McCann – (217) 782-8206

Senator 50th District
307 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Paul Schimpf  – (217) 782-8137

Senator 58th District
105D Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


Senator Jil Tracy – (217) 782-2479

Senator 47th District
M103A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706


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