Exclude Minerals from State Baiting Bans

December 15, 2016 6 min read

The following is an edited version of a statement submitted to the MI DNR when Michigan’s ban first went into effect. The origin of the Michigan ban is similar to other states, and that is the attempted prevention of the spread of chronic wasting disease. This report was originally written and submitted by the owner of Mar-Vo Mineral Company, manufacturer of the Lucky Buck Deer Mineral, Dave Wheeler.

Justification for Exemption of Mineral Products from Michigan’s Feeding & Baiting Ban

I believe the benefits of feeding mineral for the health of the deer, and the improvement of the immune system out weighs the risk of the spread of disease by animals congregating around a mineral lick.

baiting article 1I would love to show pictures of 20 deer crowded around my mineral lick or even 15 or 10, but it has never happened in 9 years of viewing thousands of pictures. This picture is exceptional to have 5 deer in one picture!
I have been marketing a mineral made specifically for wild whitetail deer for 9 years with the best surveillance system available for monitoring mineral licks. Most of my customers have trail cameras, which means there is a motion activated camera on thousands of licks made with my mineral 24/7. Any thing that moves gets photographed day or night with flash or infrared. These customers send me their best pictures for bragging rights and I love to get them and use them in all of my literature and online marketing. Included in these submitted photos are impressive pictures of large numbers of deer crowded around a mineral site. If I could get a picture of 20 or 15 deer crowded around one of my mineral licks, I would use it in every piece of literature I have to show everyone. It would be yet another way to prove how well the deer like my mineral. In 9 years and tens of thousands of pictures I have never gotten one of those. The most deer I have ever gotten in any one picture is 5 antlered bucks and another of 3 does with their fawns.


baiting article 3This is a typical mineral lick. I have been sent thousands of these pictures and have never seen signs of deer urinating or defecating in the site.

The way deer feed at a mineral source is much different than how they respond to a food source. With a foot of snow or a really dry spell in the summer food is difficult to find and this can create a feeding frenzy. There will often be dozens of deer in the pile at one time fighting for food with lots of contact and often defecation and urination in the food source. Deer could literally be dying of starvation when they walk by a mineral lick and not consume any more of the mineral. If you and your family go without eating for a few days and then are offered a bowl of apples, there would be a feeding frenzy around the apples. If you were offered a bowl of salt and minerals, what would your response be? Pictured left is a typical mineral lick. I have been sent thousands of these pictures and have never seen signs of deer urinating or defecating in the site.


Although there is more traffic at a mineral lick than a random spot in the wild, it is far less traffic than at a food source and there is very little actual contact between the animals. This greatly reduces the risk of transmitting disease from one to another.

Deer have a strong desire to find mineral and will travel for it. The congregating that occurs on mineral licks will be more intense with fewer mineral licks available due to a ban. With a shortage of mineral licks, deer will come to industrial sites, water softener discharges, and agricultural sources such as pasture cattle blocks. With less sites, deer will travel farther and increase the slight risk of disease transmission. If just a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of hunters in the state of Michigan put out mineral sites there would be more sources of better mineral aimed at improved health and as a result there would be less mixing of different groups of deer in an area.

For more research on the subject of disease transmission over mineral licks visit http://www.esri.com/news/arcnews/summer07articles/mineral-licks.html

And now let’s discuss the benefits of feeding mineral for the health of the deer and a stronger immune system. There are many different aspects of minerals that can benefit a deer populations health. Although there have been some theories on the relevance of copper and manganese with CWD, I have never found any data that proves this. With my previous experience as a dairy nutritionist, I have found that one of the most important parts of Lucky Buck Mineral is selenium. This is especially true in most mid western states that have a selenium deficiency in the soil. Most of my nutritionist colleagues also acknowledge the deficiency of selenium in Michigan.

Take a look at the following studies:

Muscle Selenium Concentrations in Michigan Deer

Key information includes:
– A .25 ppm of selenium in a deer’s skeletal muscle tissue is considered deficient. The results of the test in this study show that of 109 deer tested the mean selenium level in Michigan deer is .16 ppm

Selenium deficiency in deer: the effect of a declining selenium cycle?

Key information includes:
– Factors that cause selenium deficiency in deer include soil acidification, soil contamination with heavy metals, fertilizer effect, plant community composition, and rate of biomass removal and fire.
– “It is important to note that underlying biochemical lesions of most diseases are ultimately caused by toxic oxygen species. Proper cycling of Se through the soil-plant-animal system is essential to protect animals from oxidant stress.”

There are loads of data supporting the relationship between supplementing Se and helping the immune system in species including humans. One example is HIV. According to research by the University of Miami, taking a selenium supplement daily appears to keep HIV at bay by strengthening the immune system.

Selenium and Health: HIV and Africa

Selenium, taken daily, found to keep HIV under control and boost immune system function

Key information includes:
– The target cell of HIV is the CD4 cell, which depresses T-cell numbers.
 Selenium deficiency reduces T-cell and overall immune system function.
– HIV robs the host of available selenium for its own purposes.
 Selenium may slow viral replication.

For more specific diseases targeting deer, let’s look at Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) Prevalent During Drought

Key information includes:
– “Confirmed cases have already been reported in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia for 2007. Because deer that survive are immune for life, enhancing a herd’s immune status through nutritional supplementation is a smart wildlife management tool to help herds not only survive but to also thrive.”
– “An outbreak of EHD can kill up to 25% of the total herd.”
– “Because EHD is endemic, we cannot prevent outbreaks of EHD. However, through proper nutritional supplementation, we can give deer the building blocks needed to mount a successful immune response, thus improving their odds of survival.”
– “There is no question that well-nourished deer are healthier and better able to cope with disease challenges than poorly nourished deer.”
– “Additionally, several micro-nutrients such as selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, copper and zinc have been shown to play important roles in immune response.”

Selenium in the Immune System

Key information includes:
– …there is much potential for selenium to influence the immune system.”
– …selenium is essential for the efficient and effective operation of many aspects of the immune system in both animals and humans.”

Selenium Related Disorders in Washington Livestock

Key information includes:
 Selenium is an essential mineral for growth, reproduction, and disease prevention in all animals…It is important that livestock producers in the Northwest understand the effects of selenium deficiency in farm animals. Severe selenium deficiency frequently causes significant sickness and death loss in livestock.”

Every decision is made based on risk or cost versus reward or benefit. There is a small risk that a mineral lick could cause the spread of diseases such as CWD due to animals being at one location more often than a random place. The benefit for reducing the severity of CWD or other disease outbreaks by having a stronger immune system is a huge benefit.

Please consider these arguments when forming your opinion for or against the inclusion of mineral (specifically Lucky Buck) in any feeding or baiting ban.