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Illinois Senate panel tentatively OKs plan to feed wild deer

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) — People are not supposed to feed wild deer in Illinois.

Baiting deer for hunting is illegal, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources says feeding wild deer can spread disease.

But some people in some places in Illinois could soon give some deer something to eat.

State Sen. Chapin Rose recently told lawmakers in Springfield that there are veterinarians who say feeding deer outside of hunting season will help keep the animals healthy.

“The healthful benefits of supplemental feeding, to go with nutritional support, will be a net positive to the deer population,” Rose said.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources said no.

Dr. Paul Shelton with IDNR said many places that allow deer feeding see farmers or landowners toss out whatever is available. That’s often corn and it is not healthy for wild deer.

“Deer are a treasured natural resource, they’re wildlife,” Shelton said. “Let’s not try and treat them like livestock. They’re not livestock.”

Senators are cautiously moving ahead though. They voted to approve the plan, with the caveat that Rose look at a possible pilot program first.

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Illinois Senate panel tentatively OKs plan to feed wild deer