As part of efforts to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) bans the feeding of deer and the use of attractants in certain parts of the state to prevent the concentrations of wild deer in areas with a higher risk for disease.

The DNR expanded deer feeding and attractant bans in southeast and north-central Minnesota on Sept. 1, due to additional discoveries of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer last fall and winter. Existing bans on feeding deer will remain in central Minnesota.

The DNR reminds people to check restrictions in their areas and make sure they are doing what they can to prevent congregation of deer, which is a mechanism for disease spread.

“We understand people often enjoy feeding birds or other animals, but this has inherent risks,” said Erik Hildebrand, a DNR wildlife health specialist. “Adhering to the DNR’s restrictions on feeding and attractants is a way that every Minnesotan can help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease by limiting areas where deer are in close contact and thus at higher risk of disease transmission.”

In counties where deer feeding is banned, people need to remove any salt, grains and other food that entices deer. People who feed birds or small mammals need to make sure that deer cannot access the food; for example, keeping feed at least 6 feet above ground level. In the southeast and north central Minnesota, an attractant ban is also in place, so people must remove any natural or manufactured products that attract deer.

Food placed as a result of normal agricultural practices is generally exempt from the feeding ban. Wildlife food plots are also not included in the ban. Cattle operators are also encouraged to take steps that minimize contact between deer and feed for cattle.

Deer feeding and attractants are banned in the following north-central and southeast counties:

  • North-central counties: Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. Because of the discovery of a CWD-positive wild deer in February, the north-central counties previously under a deer feeding ban will now also be included in an attractant ban. All of Cass and Mille Lacs counties are included in this feeding and attractant ban, and Hubbard, Todd and Wadena counties have been added to the restrictions.
  • Southeast counties: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Steele, Wabasha and Winona. Following last year’s additional discoveries of CWD in the southeast area of the state, Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue and Steele counties will be included in the deer feeding and attractant ban. While CWD has not been discovered in these counties, the ban is in place to limit deer congregation and thus reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Find more information on feeding and attractant bans at mndnr.gov/cwd/feedban.html.