Proposal Legalizes Baiting For All Private-Land Deer Hunters

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DNR can't change the law, but it can move the Northern-Southern Zone line... all the way to the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The issue of how far a Georgia deer hunter must be from placed feed — or bait — took a major step toward “legal with no distance requirement” for all private-land hunters today.

After the legislature failed to act on several proposed law changes to make baiting legal statewide for deer hunters, Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order telling the DNR Board to take a look at the issue. The Board can’t change the baiting law or do away with the Northern/Southern Zone line—only the legislature can do that—but the Board can change where that line is drawn.

“The proposal was to increase parity for hunters across the state by making the Northern Zone the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Southern Zone would be anything outside of that,” said Wes Robinson, the director of Public and Governmental Affairs at Georgia DNR.

The baiting regulations only apply to private land anyway, so the DNR proposal would legalize baiting statewide on all private land. The Chattahoochee National Forest is public land where baiting would have been illegal regardless.

In 2011, legislators sought to legalize hunting deer statewide with no distance restriction. However, opposition in north Georgia led lawmakers to split the state. The Georgia law was changed to allow hunters in the Southern Zone to hunt deer with no distance restriction from supplemental feed, while Northern Zone deer hunters still had to be 200 yards or out of sight of placed feed.

Georgia law created the Northern/Southern Zone distinction, and Georgia law says Northern Zone hunters must be 200 yards away from feed. But while law creates the Northern and Southern zones, the DNR Board has the authority to say where that line can be drawn.

The proposal follows Governor Nathan Deal’s recent executive order directing Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources to take up the contentious issue of the legal distance deer hunters must be from placed feed.

According to the DNR website, “This proposed regulation modifies the department rule establishing the northern and southern zones as it relates to statutory legalities for hunting deer over bait. Changes to the existing rule are responsive to an Executive Order directing an expansion of the zones relating to hunting deer over bait to meet public objectives for use of the white-tailed deer resource. The comment period for this proposed regulation change closes on June 26, 2018.”

In addition to the public comment period, there will be two public hearings where the public can learn more about the proposal and provide input. The first hearing will be June 19 at the Armuchee High School Auditorium in Rome (4203 Martha Berry Hwy NW, Rome, GA). The other public meeting is June 20 at the Augusta Tech Auditorium in Thomson (388 Tech Dr. NW, Thomson, GA).

Following the two public hearings and comment period, the proposal will be eligible for action again in the June DNR Board meeting. If the DNR Board approves the measure, the zone line would be changed for the 2018-2019 Georgia deer season, and all private-land deer hunters in the state would be able to hunt deer with no distance restriction from placed feed.

Submit Comments

The public may submit input for consideration into the development of proposed hunting regulations by: Email: gm.comments@dnr.ga.gov
Call: (770) 918.6404
Write: Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, 2067 US Highway 278 SE, Social Circle, GA 30025

Here is the wording of Gov. Deal’s executive order that led to the DNR proposal to move the Northern/Southern Zone line:

Whereas: In 2011, HB 277 was enacted, providing a framework for deer hunters in this state practicing supplemental feeding; and

Whereas: Since 2011, the Department of Natural Resources has found no evidence that hunting over feed has directly impacted deer harvest numbers, nor has the Department observed any direct evidence of disease linked to supplemental feeding in Georgia; and

Whereas: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 27-3-9 and 27-3-15, the Board of Natural Resources is authorized to establish Northern and Southern deer hunting zones based on sound wildlife management principles; and

Whereas: In the Southern Zone of the state hunters may hunt within two hundred yards of feed, while those in the Northern Zone may not; and

Whereas: Such a distinction produces an inequity among licensed hunters based on geography which is not necessarily tied to deer population and abundance;

NOW, THEREFORE, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, IT IS HERBY

Ordered: That the Department of Natural Resources evaluate and determine an appropriate expansion of the Southern Zone and present such findings to the Board for action based on sound wildlife management principles.

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v8srbetter
v8srbetter

Well, well, well….Move the line. Now there is a novel idea! I guess they could move it all the way to Tennessee.

ptjackets
ptjackets

Not in favor of baiting in the northern zone. Have lots of friends that hunt in the southern zone They say it does not help Hunting and all it does is create an expense because if they don’t date and their neighbors do they won’t have any deer on their property. According to them, they wish she would go back to the way it was.

petemoss
petemoss

I am in favor of baiting for the entire state. If you dont wont to bait then dont do it. This is a Common sense approach the governor has taken based on facts not opinions. Just listen to how ridiculous it even sounds to talk about Sothern zone GA northern zone Ga. I’m a d**n Georgian and I am the majority!

spriggsbmcsc2c
spriggsbmcsc2c

Sorry, animal rights, tree huggers, but your wrong again. Baiting has never been illegal in the state that I’m from and the deer herd has flurished over my 61 years. Supplemental feeding increases the survival chances of the offspring and decreases the chance of desease in our herds. Go get a degree in field biology or leave the baiting and quota regulations up to our DNR field biologists.

jordant
jordant

A degree in “field biology”? Where does one get such a degree and why do you believe that a degree in the industry is even required to be able to think logically and rationally? Obviously you do not have such a degree or you would (have better grammar?) know that baiting increases the chance of disease among ungulates. Do you even know how chronic wasting disease began or how it is being continually spread throughout the country? Your bullying tactic of telling people to stay out of the business of the DNR is very telling. The DNR are public servants… Read more »

spriggsbmcsc2c
spriggsbmcsc2c

It’s easy to see your a tree huger, maybe not so much a animal rights activist, but are uneducated in the field of biology. If your worried about hitting a deer with your vehicle you definitely don’t want more deer. Some of us have grown up hunting and fishing and not in their parents basement on a computer. If you want to know about where you can get a dedree in field biology look it up on your computer. Even better, you can get more specific degrees in white tail deer management. Oh, and you should buy hunting and fishing… Read more »