Should Cold States Have Deer Feeding Programs?
This year’s winter has been particularly cold for most of the country, but for the animals living in the North, this year’s winter has been full of extreme conditions. Throughout the season, snow and ice have made it difficult for deer to find food, and right now, one state is arguing as whether the deer should be fed artificially in order to be able to survive the winter.
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) is trying to create a deer feeding program through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR, however, believes that feeding deer artificially could cause the spread of chronic wasting disease. (Chronic wasting disease is a nervous system illness that affects deer and elk. It results in brain lesions and eventual death.)
According to an article by the StarTribune, the DNR has invested more than $10 million to battle diseases like chronic wasting disease and TB in Minnesota animals. Because this disease can be transmitted from animal to animal, the DNR believe that it will cause the disease to spread.
“Feeding deer, because it concentrates animals and brings them into close contact with one another, runs the risk of causing the same problems again,” says DNR wildlife health program supervisor Michelle Carstensen.
The MDHA has an available fund of around $800,000 to put toward the feeding program to keep the deer alive. The money comes from a portion of deer hunting license sales (50 cents for every license) and was put into a fund for “potential deer feeding programs.” The association believes that the population of whitetail deer is already too small and that neglecting to feed it would make it even smaller.
DNR wildlife section chief Paul Telander argues, ““Deer have evolved to survive our winters. As a population, they don’t need to be fed.’’
So, our deer fencing company wants to know: What do you think Minnesota should do? Should they feed the deer and hope to keep the population up, or is it too risky?