The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will ban the feeding of deer from September 1 through the first Saturday in January 2011. During this time, feeding deer within the state of Virginia will be prohibited. The goal is to reduce the negative results that can arise from feeding the animals.
Feeding deer results in consequences such as increasing the population unnaturally. This can cause natural habitat damage and higher rates of disease transmission. It can also create an increasing number of conflicts between deer and humans, such as automobile collisions with the gentle creatures.
Some Virginia counties have gone so far as to make feeding deer illegal year-round. These counties are Warren, Shenandoah, Frederick, and Clarke. This initiative is part of the chronic wasting disease management plan instituted by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in April 2010.
Chronic wasting disease is a brain and nervous system disease. It is found in elk, moose, and deer throughout North America and results in abnormal behavior, emaciation, loss of bodily functions, and death. The first confirmed Virginia case of CWD was found in November 2009. The disease has been detected in the neighboring state of West Virginia annually since 2005.
CWD is caused by abnormally-shaped proteins within the lymph tissues and nervous system. These are spread from one animal to another as well as from a surface or soil to an animal. They may become attached to the surface through saliva, feces, and possibly urine. These abnormal proteins can be infectious even if they have remained in the soil for a few years. There is currently no evidence that humans can contract CWD but officials continue to investigate whether potential risk exists.
Source: Washington Post editors. The Washington Post. Va. to ban feeding of deer through January.