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Deer Baiting Now Prohibited on DNR Land All Year

Deer_Steve Cohen.jpg
Steve Cohen
Deer baiting — the act of piling food in one location to attract deer — is no longer legal at any time on Department of Natural Resources land. The reasoning is that encouraging deer to gather can increase transmission of diseases between animals.

New rules disallow large magnets for ‘magnet fishing,’ allow trail cams, pop-up blinds with proper labels

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently shared a set of rules and clarifications concerning activities on DNR land.

Probably the biggest rule change is the DNR now explicitly prohibiting deer baiting on DNR land at any time — even outside of hunting seasons — when it was previously allowed.

Brad Feaster is DNR assistant director with the Division of Fish and Wildlife Office of Public Lands. He said bait piles bring deer together which can contribute to the spread of diseases like Bovine Tuberculosis, Avian Influenza, Avian Cholera, Tularemia, “as well as several forms of skin tumors and fibromas (especially in deer),” he said.

“Any given area, you might end up with dozens of deer using that bait pile. And there might be lots of muzzle to muzzle contact," he said. "And so you have a much higher risk for disease transmission between individuals.”

These rules also clarify that trail cameras on DNR lands are allowed, but they should be clearly labeled with owner name and contact information.

It’s the same with pop-up deer blinds. They’re permitted but should also be labeled clearly.

This allows DNR workers to know who owns these items, if they must be moved during trail maintenance.

In other news, if you’re one of those people who use an electric winch to drag a heavy magnet along river bottoms to find metal objects, this is for you:

As of late July, unless you can "magnet fish" by hand, it’s no longer allowed.

Feaster says they’re concerned that this activity is too much like "dredging" the river bottom.

“We just didn't want that to take place and stir up the bottom, create a bunch more silt, reduce the water quality," he said. "We felt like That was too impactful.”

Magnets that can be dragged by hand are OK, but a permit is required.

Another rule clarification is that antlers shed by deer on DNR land can be collected by visitors — except on nature preserves.

Feaster says such rules are updated every couple years, based on staff observations and even property owner feedback.

He said officers will offer leniency early on, when enforcing the rules.

The July 20 DNR news release text:

Several rule changes that affect DNR properties took effect today, with the Natural Resources Commission, Attorney General’s Office, and Governor’s Office having recently approved them.

Changes include the following:

  • Stands or blinds (including portable ground blinds) are allowed to be left overnight on DNR properties if the blind or stand is legibly marked with the name, address and phone number of the owner or the owner's customer identification number issued by the DNR.

  • Trail/game cameras can be placed on properties managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife, as well as on state forests, and state recreation areas as long as the camera is legibly marked with the owner's name, address, phone number or customer identification number issued by DNR. Placement of the camera must not damage a tree.

  • The placing of bait for wildlife is prohibited on any DNR property. Exceptions are granted for bait or food placed for wildlife management as authorized by DNR, the result of authorized agricultural operations on the property (like tenant farming) or a bird feeder placed by a DNR employee. The definition of bait includes (1) a food that is transported to and placed for consumption, including but not limited to piles of corn and apples placed on the property; (2) prepared solids or liquids manufactured and intended for consumption by livestock, wild deer or birds, including, but not limited to, commercial baits and food supplements; (3) salt; and (4) mineral supplements. 

  • The collection of shed antlers without a permit is allowed, except on dedicated Nature Preserves.

  • Via a permit, magnet fishing is allowed on public waters on DNR properties as long as the magnet is able to be carried and retrieved by hand. Individuals will need to contact the respective property office to get a permit for magnet fishing on a DNR property.