Wildlife - Deer Information

A Retrospective on Hunting Deer Over Bait in South Carolina - Can Baiting Negatively Affect Hunter Success and Deer Harvest Rates?

The A Retrospective on Hunting Deer Over Bait in South Carolina - Can Baiting Negatively Affect Hunter Success and Deer Harvest Rates? is provided in the Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) format. Adobe® Reader® is required to open this file and is available as a free download from the Adobe® Web site.

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Note:

Act 2 of the 2013 South Carolina General Assembly removed the prohibition on baiting for deer on private lands in Game Zones 1 and 2. Therefore, baiting for deer is no longer prohibited on private land anywhere in South Carolina. Baiting or hunting over bait remains prohibited on WMA's statewide.

Introduction

The use of bait for hunting deer is controversial and involves a complex set of biological, social, and ethical issues. Biologically, population influences related to baiting can be important in the dissemination and maintenance of disease and can affect the natural movement, distribution, and behavior of deer. Baiting can also influence survival and reproduction of deer, particularly when it moves towards supplemental feeding. Finally, concentrations of deer at bait sites may lead to effects on other species, habitats, and ecosystems.

From a social standpoint, baiting can create conflicts between hunters due to real and perceived unnatural or unfair partitioning of the deer resource. Legal baiting for deer can create illegal baiting situations for other species (e.g. migratory birds) that may cause conflict between local user groups. Finally, baiting may simply pit groups against one another from a philosophical standpoint.

Ethically, support for baiting is often split among hunters; however non-hunters and anti-hunting groups typically do not support the practice. Controversy or lack of public support related to baiting most often involves perceptions of fair chase and this fair chase challenge weakens public support for hunting programs, as well as, wildlife conservation and management programs that have historically been accepted by the public at large.