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Illinois Law on Deer and Turkey Baiting

In Illinois, it is illegal to feed deer at any time or to take deer by the use or aid of bait. You may notice that deer baits and attractants are easily found and sold in many stores throughout Illinois, but despite their widespread availability, these products are illegal to use in Illinois at any time except in a few limited circumstances. Please take notice that this law does not require that a violation occur at a certain time of the year or that one has any intention of hunting near food or a qualifying substance to violate this law.

Under Illinois law, “bait” means any material, whether liquid or solid, including food, salt, minerals, and other products that can be ingested, placed or scattered in such a manner as to attract or lure white-tailed deer. 520 ILCS 5/2.26. Illinois law defines as “baiting” as the placement or scattering of bait to attract deer. This means that the placement of salt blocks to lure deer or other wildlife is illegal. Even the placement of a natural food, such as apples, would be considered illegal.

Illinois enacted the deer feeding ban in 2002 to mitigate the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) amongst its whitetail deer population. Dense concentration of deer in a single place, such as around a salt block or a mound of corn kernels, makes the disease more transmittable amongst the deer population.

However, Illinois hunters and property owners are legally able to manage their property in many ways that will result in the attraction of white tail deer including:

  • Crops mowed or cut and left as a part of a normal agricultural or soil stabilization practice;
    • Standing crops;
    • Food plots;
    • Incidental feeding of wildlife within active livestock operations;
    • Grain or other feed scattered or distributed solely as a result of normal agricultural, gardening, or soil stabilization practices. 520 ILCS 5/2.26.

    Also, the use of products designed for scent only and not capable of ingestion, solid or liquid, placed or scattered, in such a manner as to attract or lure deer, is permissible under the law. 520 ILCS 5/2.26..This means that you may legally make use of products like deer urine and other similar scent attractants.

    The same limitations to baiting deer are also applicable to baiting turkeys in Illinois. It is illegal to take wild turkeys by the use or aid of bait or baiting of any kind. “Bait” means any material, whether liquid or solid, including food, salt, minerals and other products that can be ingested, placed or scattered in such a manner as to attract or lure wild turkeys. “Baiting” means the placement or scattering of bait to attract wild turkeys.

    Illinois law makes a distinction between simply baiting deer and hunting over bait. Illegal baiting is a petty offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. (17 Illinois Administrative Code Part 635.50). Hunting over bait is a Class B misdemeanor which punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500, seizure of any items used for the hunt, and loss of hunting privileges. (520 ILCS 5/2.26).

    Please be aware that Illinois law establishes different rules for the use of bait for purposes of taking migratory birds, doves, coyotes, and other animals as well as the use of bait for trapping. For any other questions concerning these issues, please feel free to contact Hauk & Owens.

    By: Ryan Parker

    DISCLAIMER: This publication is not intended to be legal advice but is presented for informational and educational purposes only. The facts and circumstances of a specific legal issue are unique and you should seek legal advice for your specific questions or concerns. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. No attorney-client relationship is created.

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