Feeding Wildlife In Winter

When the temperature drops and the snow piles up in drifts and covers the grass and brushes in the hills, people began to wonder, will the wildlife be okay?

Christina Schmidt, Wyoming Game and Fish public information specialist for the Sheridan region, said that feeding deer is illegal within the city limits of Sheridan, “Mule Deer have a specialized digestive system, and they do best on native forage. They cannot digest other feeds.” She said there are specific types of bacteria in their rumen are required to aid in the digestion of naturally occurring foods. Often, because their digestive system can’t adapt quickly enough, mule deer die with stomachs full of undigested feed.

She said that when humans feed deer, they learn to relay on supplemental feed, and teach their young to come to the easy food, and they do not learn how to forage for themselves in the winter months.

There are other problems in feeding deer as well. Attracting large groups to one area can increase the risk that diseases will spread. Feeding also invites cougars, coyotes, and other predators to your neighborhood. There have been incidents of mountain lions coming close to towns, and in some areas coyotes have attacked pets and even small children.

Schmidt explains other hazards of feeding wildlife, “Feeding deer in residential areas increase the chances of deer being hit by cars, and getting chased by dogs. Deer can also create problems by destroying ornamental plants and shrubs.”

Sheridan City Ordinance 6-40 states: It is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally provide supplemental feed to the following wild animals and fowl: deer, antelope, elk, moose, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, coyotes, bears, wolves, foxes, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats.

The term ‘supplemental feeds’ means human food, pelleted forage feed and hay, mineral supplements, grain, and birdseed, but does not include incidental food sources, lawns, gardens, or feed that the deer find as a result of a livestock owner feeding their livestock, or the practice of raising and harvesting grain for domestic livestock.

Also excepted are people who are feeding birds, and the deer or other animals find the excess food and eat it.

There is a fine for the unlawful feeding of wildlife within the city limits.

Schmidt did say that the best thing one can do for deer in the winter is to, “Provide open water. Water is a necessity in winter as well as summer. All wildlife benefit from having water.”

Open water can be provided by using an electric stock tank heater, chopping ice to open a water hole, or using heated water bowls. Bird bath heaters can also be used to give birds open, warm water.

Although feeding deer and other wildlife is not good for the wildlife, song birds benefit from having bird feeders and open water. Schmidt said that feeders should be kept clean, and good quality bird seed should be fed. Birds can be enjoyable to watch at the feeders, especially for house bound people. Depending on where you live, there can be a variety of birds that visit the feeders.

Sparrows on a feeder


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Michael Maurer
2 months ago

In Somerset County, Pennsylvania there are 52 deer and 34 turkeys in one 250 acre field feeding together on corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, alfalfa, clover, and an assortment of grasses. Once this left over food is all gone = they will move to the next field. At harvest time, farmers will over shoot their trucks and grain wagons spilling large pies of grain on the ground or on the road where these piles draw in many animals to chow down on. In farm country, the grain and crops that are left behind in the field are easy pickings for deer and turkeys, bear and in fact, all wildlife.
Deer naturally suck and lick from the day they are born. That is their nature. Our PENDOT Plow Trucks put down 500 to 700 Lbs. of Rock Salt per mile on our State Road every time it snows. And you wonder “Why” so many deer get hit on the roads?
My question is: so why can’t you put out corn, soybeans, oats, wheat and salt for deer and turkeys and wildlife to feed on? In Ohio and surrounding States you are allowed to put food out for deer. Why do people now put “food plots” in areas where they hunt?
No doubt it is because of the slaughtering of deer that is allowed to persist has dropped the deer numbers.
I am 63 years old and have been hunting for over 50 years now. When I first started to hunt on the Laurel Mountain Range, just above the farmlands of Somerset County, you could count 40 to 50 deer in one group coming up passed you during the first day of deer rifle season. By the end on the day, each hunter could tell their stories of seeing over 100 deer in their day of hunting.
As for today, those days are long gone and only a few years ago the deer herd was so decimated that a good experienced hunter would have an-extremely hard time seeing 2 to 3 deer in the whole 2 week season. The deer herd is up slightly over the past 3 years in Pennsylvania, but being able to hunt from the 1st Saturday in October thru the 3rd week of January and can purchase up to 6 deer tags is just crazy, to say the least!
In a DMAP area you can BLAST AWAY at a herd of deer if you have 6 tags before you go trying to find all the blood trails of the 6 deer you just slaughtered!!
Pa. has “Red Tag” farms too that you can shoot deer all year long because the deer are eating the crops!
Just Unbelievable!
So why the alarm and concern of saving our deer?
There is concern now that Pennsylvania hunters shot too many Bear and this hurt the population???
Bear season used to be in for only 3 days for a reason……………
Just my thoughts………..

walter m mayberry
2 months ago

the best thing i can think of is a deer meat breakfast and when i spent most of time on horse farms in Dulles airport area we had to shot the bucks becouse of the danger of terittoraly rights of horses and deer and loss of a horse worth good money with the male deer antlers being strong and shape enough to punch through a steel can the way i see even a fresh good road kill is better on the dinner plate then left for the buzzerts our the coyoatys Sincerely WALTER RIFLE