ST. JOSEPH (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is reviewing legislation that would test feeding the state’s deer, which some say could help the animals better fight off illnesses while others argue could spread disease.
The bill under review would launch a five-year experiment to test how feeding Illinois deer affects the wild herd’s health, the Chicago Tribune reported. The study would lift the 15-year-old rule that makes it illegal to feed deer.
Dr. Clifford Shipley, a newly retired University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine professor, said the study’s feed formula would help deer thrive. The nutritional feed is infused with proteins, vitamins and minerals.
“Instead of you going to McDonald’s every day and having three Big Macs and fries, it would be like sending you to a health-food place where you’re going to get a balanced diet,” Shipley said. “It’s there to make the deer healthy.”
Opponents of the study fear that feeding stations could attract large gatherings of animals and spread a variety of diseases, including chronic wasting disease. The fatal disease wrecks a deer’s nervous system and is present the animal’s saliva, urine and feces.
“It opens the door to statewide devastation of the deer herd, and no one knows the human or livestock implications,” said Brent Manning, former director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “This is the biggest wildlife bungle the General Assembly could possibly make.”
Rauner has until the end of the month to decide whether to approve the measure.