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Iowa DNR seeks wildlife feeding ban

DES MOINES -- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is proposing legislation that would ban the feeding of wildlife in many instances in an effort to reduce the possibility of a major disease coming into the state.

The proposed ban would include all areas except within 50 yards of a building permanently inhabited by people. Exceptions would be made for feed placed for the trapping of fur bearing animals, licensed whitetail deer hunting preserves and other purposes designated by the DNR.

The ban is an attempt to prevent a major disease such as tuberculosis from spreading through Iowa, which could not only affect wildlife but the state's livestock industry.

"If you get it into livestock, you lose your accreditation, you can't sell your livestock to other states. It just starts a snowball effect," said Dale Garner, wildlife bureau chief for the DNR.

Disease can be spread at feeding sites where animals congregate through saliva, feces or urine, Garner said.

Garner said they know bird feeding and wildlife viewing is important to the state's economy, and the proposed ban was a compromise.

He said states that have experienced disease outbreaks have said if wildlife feeding is prohibited, it helps prevention efforts.

Rep. Mike May, R-Spirit Lake, said lawmakers must carefully consider the possible unintended consequences of such a ban, such as farmers that might leave hay or silage out.

He said he's sensitive to the efforts for disease prevention.

"We have a lot of individual citizens who love to see deer coming to their backyard. We need to consider the implications of that, and what does it mean for infecting populations," May said.
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