Proposed Regulation Amendment

4VAC15-40-285. Game: In General. Unauthorized feeding of cervids.

Summary

The proposal is to (i) change the title reference from deer to cervids, (ii) make the feeding of cervids illegal year round in Buchanan, Clarke, Dickenson, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Wise counties and in the City of Winchester, (iii) make it illegal to feed deer or elk in any county, city, or town during any deer or elk hunting season, (iv) require that all feed be removed from any feeding site prior to September 1, and (v) make any area where feed has been distributed be considered a "baited" area for 10 days following the complete removal of the food.

Text of Regulation

Rationale

Changing title reference from deer to cervids

Although elk are members of the deer family, the use of the term cervid(s) will clarify that the unauthorized feeding of deer refers to all members of the deer family.

Year round deer feeding prohibition in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the City of Winchester

Making the feeding of deer illegal year round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the City of Winchester will conform this regulation to the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management actions that have been in effect since April 2010 under the Director's authority per 4VAC15-20-220. These management actions did not require regulation changes, and changes have not been sought so that management flexibility could be maintained during the first few years following CWD detection in Virginia. However, the absence of regulations related to specific management actions has hindered prosecution of some violations of requirements. Given that the agency's disease management approach is not likely to change in the near future, current management actions can now be established in regulation. If necessary, modifications to management actions can be made under Director's authority between regulation cycles.

Year round deer and elk feeding prohibition in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise counties

Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise have been designated as elk restoration counties by the Department and a regulation prohibiting the feeding of elk year round in these counties is being proposed. This year-round feeding ban is being put forward to prevent the establishment of nuisance elk in areas where feed is placed and to prevent congregation of animals around feed piles and potentially amplified disease transmission. Because of the latter concern, the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services has requested that VDGIF implement an elk feeding ban in the restoration area. To remove the potential loophole of feeding elk under the auspices of feeding deer, staff recommends that all feeding of deer and elk be prohibited in these three counties year round.

Deer feeding prohibition in any county, city, or town during an open deer hunting season

Over the last decade, the Department has created several special late deer seasons (e.g., urban archery (in 39 cities, towns, and counties) and the late antlerless only firearms season in four counties in NOVA) that are held after the "normal" first Saturday in January close of deer season. Although it is illegal to hunt over a baited place in Virginia (§ 29.1-521), the current regulation allows persons to begin feeding deer again statewide after the first Saturday in January potentially putting legal deer hunters in the late season areas unknowingly in violation of baiting laws because they hunt on a small parcel where no legal feeding is taking place but the deer may be influenced by feeding on an adjoining property. The proposed language will make it illegal to feed deer in any county, city, or town during a late deer season.

Requirement that deer feed be removed by September 1st

Since the regulation prohibiting deer feeding after September 1 statewide was initiated in fall 2006, Department law enforcement personnel have encountered several instances where they have found large quantities of deer feed distributed in an area after the September 1 feeding deadline and have upon investigation been told that the materials were put out prior to September 1. The wording change suggested will remove this loophole and require that all deer feed be removed by September 1.

Ten day restriction on deer hunting a previously "baited" area

Additionally, under the current deer feeding regulation, a deer feeding site could legally be cleaned up and hunted the same day. The regulation proposal will remove this loophole and make the area be considered a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of the food.

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