Pa. Game Commission: Wildlife feeding ban would help curb spreading of diseases
A proposal to expand the statewide ban on feeding big game is being considered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The commission is holding a series of meetings across the state in July and August to solicit public comment on the proposal, which would extend a ban on feeding bear and elk to include deer and turkey.
The hearing for Southwestern Pennsylvania will be held from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Delmont Volunteer Fire Department, 2360 Route 66.
The proposal has the support of a citizens’ advisory committee that has been studying the issue for several months and will make a recommendation to the game commission.
“There was little support from the advisory committee members to ban the feeding of all wildlife, primarily because of the wide use of bird feeders,” the game commission said. “Expanding the feeding ban to include all big game would address some of the concerns related to wildlife feeding, while allowing for limited feeding of birds.”
The game commission’s concerns center on the spread of disease — especially chronic wasting disease in deer and mange in bears — that is facilitated by the close gathering of animals.
“Though these diseases do spread naturally, their spread is significantly increased when wildlife is unnaturally concentrated. When people feed wildlife, they escalate this concentration,” the game commission said. ”Each of these diseases can be passed from animal to animal and spreads more quickly when animals are congregated at wildlife feeders or other artificial feeding sites.”
The proposal would amend the Pennsylvania code section that prohibits the feeding of certain wildlife. The proposed language is as follows:
“It is unlawful to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals anywhere in this Commonwealth for the purpose of feeding big game to include Elk, Deer, Bear and Turkey, or to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals that may cause big game to congregate or habituate an area. If otherwise lawful feeding is attracting big game, the Commission may provide written notice prohibiting the activity.”
The game commission noted the advisory committee supports banning the use of urine (both natural and synthetic), scents and lures used to hunt big game.
A final recommendation is expected in October.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .