The following article was written and submitted by Jim McDermott of Seven Lakes West.
Addressing the community’s growing deer population, The Seven Lakes West newsletter to residents last month said that more damage is done to the wild herds by feeding them than allowing them to find their own food.
They included a link to a very comprehensive article from the Pennsylvania Game Commission on why feeding deer is not a good idea. Here are some highlights from the article.
- While feeding deer may enhance wildlife viewing, decades of research has clearly shown that supplemental feeding leads to increased disease risk, long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans and alteration of other deer behavioral patterns and, ultimately, the demise of the value of deer and deer-related recreation.
- Feeding areas lure deer away from natural wintering areas, increase energy loss and often lead to malnutrition and even death.
- Animals conditioned to human food sources lose their natural wariness and may become aggressive toward people either in protection of, or in seeking, human food sources.
- Wild deer that are fed may adopt the habits of domestic animals. When deer spend lots of time on private property, landowners often feel as if they are personal possessions rather than wild animals that belong to all citizens.
- Studies have documented the death of wild ruminants from feeding on highly digestible, high energy, low fiber feed such as corn in winter. This rapid exposure to a concentrated grain diet can cause a fatal disruption of the animal’s acid-base balance. Those that survive the immediate effects often die in the days or weeks that follow, due to secondary complications of the disease.
- Feeding can cause more deer to survive than the natural habitat can support, leading to long-term degradation of the habitat and diminishing the carrying capacity of the area.
You can read the entire article at http://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeSpecies/White-tailedDeer/Documents/feeding_deer.pdf