Ask The Biologist

Saltaholic

Saltaholic

By Bob Humphrey

Just like us, deer love salt, but it’s not really beneficial.

QUESTION: CWD just expanded into where I live in south-central Pennsylvania. Is it okay to continue offering salt? I don’t want CWD to spread, but feel the deer still need it. I was wondering if offering salt might bring deer together and increase the chances of spreading the disease. I was thinking the different family groups come at different times, so it wouldn’t spread, but I’ve also heard it can infect the soil.

ANSWER: The short answer is: We really don’t know. Several states have already banned the use of food and scent attractants out of fear that concentrating deer could increase the probability of spreading diseases like CWD. There’s a lot of speculation there, but it is possible.

Regardless, what makes you think deer need salt? If you’re providing pure salt (NaCl), it is attractive to deer but offers them little, if anything, in the way of nutrition. Mineral blocks are a different story.

And, yes, the prions that cause CWD do get into the soil where they can persist indefinitely, so different family groups coming at different times would not negate the risk. I suggest you save the salt and sprinkle a little on the deer that’s on your dinner plate.

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Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd