HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA)– A committee of Pennsylvania Game Commission staff has recommended a statewide ban on feeding white-tailed deer.

The agency biologists say that banning artificial feeding stations would help slow the spread of wildlife diseases. They’re asking residents to voluntarily stop feeding deer.

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Our partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that around 81 million Americans watch wildlife from their home as a past time– almost 1 million from that group reside in Pennsylvania.

The commission often addresses wildlife outbreaks of insect-borne infections, West Nile Virus, and other flare-ups, but its scientists are most concerned about Chronic Wasting Disease in deer.

The neurological disorder is fatal, and exposure cannot be detected until shortly before the deer’s death. The disease has spread to herds in 23 states, including Pennsylvania, where it continues to spread.

There is no reported evidence that chronic waste disease can be spread to humans, but the environmental fear hasn’t been recognized by residents.

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“In general, feeding deer is bad because it habituates them, makes them lose their fear of humans,” said Game Commission spokesman, Patrick Snickles. “The bigger problem is, just like any disease, the closer contact these animals have with one another, the higher the rate of disease exchange. That’s certainly true with CWD.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that municipalities that have proposed feeding bans in the past have faced opposition and eventually abandoned the idea after backlash from voters who enjoy the pastime.

Robert Jones, manager of Mount Nebo Agway, says most of the elderly customers enjoy feeding the deer in their backyards so they can watch them. This proposed ban would cut product sales for the feed store.

Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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