Wildlife Biologist: Don’t Feed The Deer ( I Do That But It’s Important To NOT Give Them Too Strong Fodder)

If there’s one topic wildlife biologists agree on, it’s the folly of feeding  deer. Conventional wisdom is unanimous: Don’t do it.

Two groups — animal lovers and wildlife farmers — feed deer. Animal lovers  pity deer when temperatures dip and snow covers the ground. When a big storm  blows in, they feel compelled to suddenly offer food. Pallets stacked high with  “deer corn” at farm supply stores encourage this harmful behavior. Wildlife  farmers see deer as a crop to be fed, fattened and harvested.

In Pennsylvania, feeding wildlife is legal — only the feeding of elk and  bears is against the law.

“But we strongly discourage feeding deer,” said Game Commission spokesman  Jerry Feaser. “Our executive director has the authority to outlaw deer feeding  when disease management is a factor. Presently deer feeding is banned in York  and Adams counties.”

A detailed explanation by state wildlife veterinarian Walt Cottrell can be  found at www.pgc.state.pa.us,

The problem is that deer digestion is a finely tuned physiological process.  As the seasons change, deer diet also changes. From herbaceous vegetation in the  spring and summer to acorns in the fall to woody browse in the winter, deer  require several weeks to slowly adapt to new foods. It doesn’t happen in just a  few days during a snowstorm. Just the right combination of microorganisms,  enzymes and pH enable deer to digest a normal winter diet of woody  vegetation.

When offered a sudden supply of corn, a deer’s digestive system doesn’t have  time to adjust to a high carbohydrate diet. The result can be acute acidosis  followed by death within 72 hours. Corn makes the deer’s first stomach acidic,  destroying the microbes needed for normal digestion.

Furthermore, supplemental feeding concentrates deer in small areas where  nose-to-nose contact facilitates the spread of infectious diseases. And in  traveling to and from a supplemental source of food, deer expend energy they  can’t afford to lose and become more vulnerable to speeding traffic and  predators.

Resist the urge to be kind this winter. A suddenly available supply of corn  wreaks havoc on deer digestion and can be deadly. For more information, consult  “Feeding Wildlife … Just Say No!” (1991, Wildlife Management  Institute).

Biologist, author and broadcaster Scott  Shalaway can be heard 9-11 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 AM WVLY (Wheeling) and noon-2  p.m. Sundays on 1360 AM WMNY (Pittsburgh). He can be reached at http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com, and 2222 Fish Ridge  Road, Cameron, WV 26033. First Published November 18, 2012 12:00  am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/hunting-fishing/wildlife-biologists-ask-please-dont-feed-the-deer-662566/#ixzz2CYjyUT1F

About narhvalur

Environmentalist, Animal Lover, Birder,Equastrian
This entry was posted in Animal Welfare, Roe Deers and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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