The DNR appears to be backing off its plan to ban deer feeding for fear of offending the thousands of people who enjoy feeding deer in their backyards. That's bad news for the deer and for the people who enjoy watching them.
The plan to ban feeding was announced in August in order to head off the spread of chronic wasting disease. The scientists behind the proposed ban asserted that close contact, particularly mouth-to-mouth contact among deer, increases the likelihood of herd diseases.
The science makes as much sense now as it did then but the DNR appears to be caving in to the pressure it expects to receive from lawmakers who were predicting strong opposition from the thousands of Minnesotans who enjoy feeding deer in their backyards.
There's no doubt that observing the graceful movements of a deer in the wild is a satisfying pastime but if chronic wasting disease becomes widespread our days of enjoying deer will be history.
The DNR's reversal is short-sighted and could prove harmful to Minnesota's deer population. It's true that no agency gets beat up from the general public as much as the DNR but there are times when state officials should stick to their guns if they're convinced their policy is right. If the lawmakers cave in to pressure and direct the DNR to lift a feeding ban then so be it. But the lawmakers are the ones who should be taking the heat for any controversial policies. They're the ones who are elected to represent us.
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