Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Thursday, February 9th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Deer do not need supplemental feeding

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife managers are
urging

people not to feed deer this winter even though it may appear
they need

help to make it through the cold and snowy conditions.

“Deer have evolved several strategies to help them survive
Minnesota

winters,” said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR Northeast Region wildlife
manager,

who added the DNR has received an increase in the amount of
calls about

deer feeding in the past few weeks.

Even though individual deer may die in severe winters, deer
populations

recover quickly.

“The deer have insulating hollow hair that helps them retain
body heat,

their metabolism slows down, and they live on browse and body
fat

reserves,” Lightfoot said. “When it’s cold and the snow is deep,
they

move to traditional wintering areas that have areas with
extensive

conifer cover, which moderates temperatures and intercepts snow.
When

people feed deer, they often interrupt these natural movements
to

wintering areas, keeping deer in areas without adequate conifer
cover or

natural food.”

Deer do not normally feed in close contact with each other.
Deer

feeding changes normal behavior increasing

the likelihood of disease and parasite transmission. Deer that
become

accustomed to eating from feeders become tamer, and their
ability to

survive in the wild is compromised.

“The strongest deer usually eat first at a feeder and chase
away

younger, older, and weaker deer,” Lightfoot said.

Too many deer in a small area can quickly over-browse their

surroundings. Deer that are artificially fed are likely to eat
trees,

gardens, flowers and shrubs in neighborhoods, making people
less

tolerant of deer.

Deer feeding can also create hazards by drawing deer across
roadways.

Nationally, about 29,000

people are injured and 200 people die from deer-vehicle
collisions each

year.

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