Tennessee Bill Seeks to Legalize Hunting Over Bait Amidst CWD Issues

By Brodie SwisherFebruary 22, 2024

There’s been a lot of questions and concerns over the true state of the CWD status in Tennessee in the last year. Particularly since a former biologist for the state accused the agency of inflated CWD numbers in the fall of 2023. There are plenty of raised eyebrows over the issue, yet few answer have come from state officials. 

However, despite the current status of CWD in the Volunteer State, House Bill 1618 has been introduced to legalize hunting over bait on private lands in the state. It’s a move that seems to go against everything “CWD experts” say should be done when combating the spread of the disease among deer. It seems to be another red flag in the handling of CWD in the state. In fact, it’s enough of a concern that the National Deer Association (NDA) is speaking out and making a call to action over the issue. 

Read the NDA’s reasoning behind the opposition in their release below.

Is Hunting Deer Over Bait Cheating?

Tennessee House Bill 1618 would legalize hunting over bait on private land. Currently, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) prohibits the use of bait as an aid for taking wildlife. The regulation reads: No person shall make use of bait to hunt (TCA 70-1-101) wildlife unless the bait has been removed and any electronic feeder disabled at least 10 days prior to hunting. Salt and mineral are allowed if the salt/mineral contains at least 51% salt by weight of salt minerals or it does not contain whole grain or other non-refined food stuffs. 

The National Deer Association (NDA) opposes the expansion of baiting where not currently legal, and that is exactly what this misguided legislation intends to do. NDA does not work to repeal baiting where currently legal, except where chronic wasting disease (CWD) or other known diseases are present. CWD was first found in Tennessee in 2018 and has continued to spread, although TWRA has been working hard to slow progress of the disease by implementing its CWD Response Management Plan

The science is clear that baited sites are hotbeds for the accumulation of prions and other infectious materials, and these areas facilitate the spread of CWD and other diseases. Bait sites also unnaturally congregate deer and other animals, which makes it easier for wildlife to spread diseases directly to each other.

Take Action Now!

Please consider joining the National Deer Association (NDA) in opposing this legislation. There is no need for Tennessee to allow baiting for the taking of wildlife, especially considering the spread of CWD in the state. Furthermore, NDA firmly believes that wildlife management issues in the state are best left to the trained and experienced professionals at TWRA, not politicians.

CLICK HERE  to ask your lawmakers to oppose HB 1618.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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