Most deer feeding points will have food this week

Grand Rapids, Minn. — The emergency feeding of deer in 13 permit areas in the northern part of the state is set to kick off later this week.

There are eight distribution points spread across the feeding area; six will have feed as early as Thursday. The other two will have feed beginning next week.

There will be three semi-truck loads of feed this week; each load is 22 tons. As a result, each of the six feed distribution points will receive 11 tons this week.

“The biggest problem starting off is filling the pipeline,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which is leading the feeding effort. “The long-range problem is not just making sure we have feed each week, but making sure we have enough feed to last until the snow recedes.”

The plan is to feed for six weeks, at an average of one pound of feed per animal, per day.

“If we feed at that average, we can hit 20,000 animals,” Johnson said.

Of course, it’s entirely possible there could be snow on the ground for longer than six weeks.

“After a week or two – probably two weeks – we’ll know if we have to go back to the DNR to lobby for more money,” Johnson said.

The DNR has made available $170,000 for the emergency deer-feeding effort. That money is from an emergency winter feeding/wildlife health account that takes in 50 cents from the sale of each deer-hunting license. Prior to the commencement of the feeding effort, there had been $770,000 in that account.

There currently are more than 200 people in the MDHA volunteer database. Those who put out feed must be registered as volunteers. While many people already are registered, Johnson says people also will be able to register at the feed-distribution sites.

People should click on the “2014 Emergency Winter Deer Feeding Initiative” banner on the right side of the MDHA website – mndeerhunters.com – for the most up-to-date information. Johnson expected this week’s distribution dates and times to be posted as early as Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning (both after Outdoor News’ weekly deadline).

People who show up at distribution sites, but who haven’t registered as volunteers, need to know exactly where they plan to feed (it must be public land), and the approximate number of deer they’ll be feeding.

In most cases, feeding will start off at a half-pound per day, and then ramp up to one pound. Johnson notes the feeding is intended to supplement what the deer already are eating.

“Animals that are on the verge of starvation right now, they are too far gone,” he said. “Those that are on the edge – those are the ones we’re trying to save.”

MDHA has been getting reports of dead deer for the past month, and it seems to have been on the rise recently. But Johnson also noted deep snow has kept many people from going into the woods. Last Sunday, for example, Johnson and his son were in the woods on snowshoes  and in some areas – even with the snowshoes – were sinking in powdery snow up to their knees. They would have been in even deeper without the snowshoes.

Distribution sites

People should log onto the MDHA website for specific dates and times when feed will be available, but the sites where feed will be delivered this week are:

• Esko – Widdes Feed Mill
• Moose Lake – Moose Lake Co-op
• Wright – Farmers Cooperative Feed Mill
• Virginia – New London Warehouse
• Cook – Homestead Mills
• International Falls – Up North Builders

The other two distribution sites will have feed next week. Those sites are:

• Hibbing – Hibbing Feed & Seed
• Grand Rapids – Itasca County Farm Service

To those people who want to put out feed, Johnson gives the following warning: “Don’t be too upset if we run out of feed. We’re trying to fill the pipeline as fast as we can, but it’s going to be a huge challenge to make it spread.”

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