Feeding over the winter months

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Noplacelikehome
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2008/01/15 20:29:37 (permalink)

Feeding over the winter months

Is it good or bad to feed the deer over the winter(corn). I have been told that it really does NOT make a difference. What do you guys think?
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    S-10
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/15 20:57:36 (permalink)
    It's all right if you start early and don't stop until late March or so. If you start late after their body adjusts to winter feed it can screw up their digestive system. I start right after rifle season and quit about the beginning of greenup.
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    A1H Skyraider
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/15 21:02:25 (permalink)
    we always start the day after muzzleloader ends and feed unitl the spring food plot is in good shape then they are on their own unitl we shoot them.
     
     

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    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/15 22:36:55 (permalink)
    While corn provides food, it doesn't provide much nutrition.   It can take deer away from nutritional feed that they'd normally feed on otherwise.  Deer are lazy too, they'll use the path of least resistance if they can.  If they don't have to hunt for food, they won't.  High deer concentration is not a good thing.  I have a friend who fed deer about 300-400 pounds of corn a year.  They sure were there in the winter for his feed but weren't there for hunting season.   All he could hope for is a superb acorn drop.  As of this past year, he quit feeding.  Dumping heavy amounts of corn in a given area can create substantial overbrowsing to and from the area which is detremential to the forest and all animals, which is why he wasn't seeing deer in hunting season.  It also can spread disease by nose to nose contact.  Ever watch a deer eat closely?  They sure drop a lot of what they put in their mouths.  Other animals pick it up therefore risking disease, deer included.  While one could argue that this occurs in nature, it can become distorted expotentially if feeding heavily in a small area.  It's not as if our winters are harsh enough anymore to starve our deer; we don't have many deer anyway.  Makes it easy for predators too.   I don't feed them because the cost would outweigh the benefit.  Even if it were free, I still wouldn't.  You got winter wheat and acorns left?  If so, you're only hurting the deer by feeding them corn.  If you're going to, I'd try to not concentrate the feed in one area and don't provide enough that it's the only thing deer will eat.
    post edited by SilverKype - 2008/01/16 08:05:00
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/16 15:07:59 (permalink)
    Im with kype on this one....you be better off to plant plots for them....there are so many different feeds out there that you can get that provide year round food and nutrition for whitetails.

    CB
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    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/16 15:52:21 (permalink)
    If your talking 6 months old then how do you account for all the young deer you see in the standing corn or cut over cornfields all winter?


    s-10

    That I see?  Right.  That still doesn't change the fact that corn is bad for deer.  Just because we are now a bit more educated doesn't mean we should continue down that same path.  Hard to understand?  Corn feeding is illegal in many states; there's a reason for that.  There's a difference between deer eating corn and relying on a feeder.  Can you disagree with that?  You want more deer but are willing to feed them something that has been proven to kill them.  Best case scenario is them doing without the best possible food available.  Likely producing undersized body weight and antler size that you can blame the commission for.  Worst case, it'll kill some.  Whether it be from digestive problems, predators, or corn not giving them the nutrition they need to survive.  It's not as common as it used to be for me to see deer down here in corn fields.  Quite rare to see them in corn.  My take is that there's now enough browse to support them on the mountain.  Many stay there.  That's good.  Quite possibly the reason there used to be one big buck per 1/2 mile, now there's 2 or more.
    post edited by SilverKype - 2008/01/16 15:54:38
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    S-10
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/16 17:02:53 (permalink)
    A few comments and then I'am done on the topic.  1. I agree it is better to plant food plots but unless you have the land, equipment, time, and money it's impossible. You can't get enough planted with the old rake and throw method to do anything but maybe improve a hunting spot. 2. You are way overstating the bad for deer/ kill the deer claim. Unless you wait until late winter when their digestive track is in winter/starvation mode or the corn is spoiled you are not going to hurt them. Heck-- the U.S. produces around 60,000,000 pounds of corn a year the last I knew and before fancy gas nearly all  of it was eaten by something or someone. I agree if you dump a truckload of anything in mid Feb the deer will have major problems eating it. 3. Corn feeding may be illegal in some states although I am not aware of them unless you mean baiting. Feeding corn is also legal in many states and I think all the Canadian Proviences both for feeding and baiting. Many of these hi dollar hunts take you to your stand on a 4 wheeler and fire up the corn spreader on the way back. I wasn't aware that was common practice up there until just recently. 4. The fact you don't see as many deer in the fields and think it's because the feed in the woods is better confirms my statement that the deer won't work the corn heavy unless they need it. They know the foods that have the most protein. 5. As far as anyone thinking that feeding them in the winter will mean they will hang around in the spring just the opposite is true. With both deer and turkey because they do make trips in and out of the area and will pick up or bite off anything else they happen to like the 1/4 mile radius around the feeding area will likely have less natural feed than the area beyond that.  I've fed them all my life with no noticable ill effects and will continue to do so. I used to help the PGC feed turkeys until they got too cheap to do it. I hike a road in the gamelands in the winter past 4 big feeders that are rotting away. Guess who they came to when they wanted to trap and tag some?
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    Noplacelikehome
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 07:05:42 (permalink)
    Thanks for the posts guys.
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    bingsbaits
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 07:11:51 (permalink)
    I have 2 feeders that operate all year.Each throws a hundred pounds of corn a month. No dead or dying deer here.
    As far as corn being bad for deer what report are you reading?? Some of the deer here live in corn fields.
     My trail cams on the feeders have seen no sick or dying deer.
     The feeders are set up so there are no large piles. Moldy corn is bad for the critters especially the turkeys..
    If you are after mature bucks feeders are a waste of time. I've had the feeder by my house there for 5 years and have had 1 mature buck come in for a picture. They are in the area we have pictures of them elsewhere on the property. Mostly small buck and doe..
     

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    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 09:39:35 (permalink)
    ok S-10--

    No where did I give any numbers or % of number of deer being killed, so I'm not overstating anything.  Just looking at it from a negative perspective, something you do a lot.  

    Let's say you have 2 bucks-- one 1.5 and another 2.5, one doe with two little ones, another doe (we'll make this one the matriarch doe) with one little one, and a lone button buck coming to your feeder nightly.  Every now and then bucks wonder off and you don't see them for a day or so.  The doe are more consistent, no surprise there.  All the deer bed 1/4 mile away.  

    Perfectly normal situation.  Absolutely "nothing" overstated above.

    Obviously, the matriarch doe will be the dominate deer in this herd.  Yes, before the bucks.  I've seen does kick and chase bucks, yes mature bucks, away from feed so their little ones can eat first.  Dominance is a fact of nature, I think we can agree on that.

    Now, there is a reason deer pig out during the fall, it's not solely because of the rut.  In fact, it's more about surviving the winter. They are reserving fat for the winter months.  Nearly 40% of a deer's diet during the winter is from their stored fat.  Yes, they sit on their****but they are still receiving the nutritions they need.  It's mother natures way of adaptation.  This is why deer seemingly "disappear" over the late winter months.  Not because of the past hunting pressure but because they are feeding off their fat, most importantly, they are reserving IMPORTANT energy that they need to find food.

    Here's where the problem begins when deer depend on you for feed and you feed very little.  Here's where the matriarch doe, her little ones survive, and the doe more likely the two little ones, perhaps the button buck, do not.

    The corn as already stated, provides very little nutrition, around 5-7%.  Yeah, not a real good food for deer.  BUT, it's easy to come to a feeder.  It' easier to go to a food source than it is hunt for for it.  The reserved fat on the deer are used up more quickly by traveling more and most importantly, the energy is too.  That's fine for matriarch doe and her little ones as they are getting something out of it but not for the others.  They are coming to the feeder and getting nothing or very little while their energy is being used.  Without the feeder, when they are not sitting on their**** they are a bit spread out and finding the food that they need.  While it costs them energy, very likely all are getting it back from the food they find.  Worse case scenario, they stay under the pines, bedded and live off their fat with no one enticing them to use important energy.   I've come across deer beds, a week after a snow with one set of tracks coming to the bed and one leaving (me jumping them).  Proof that they will lay down and stay living off their fat.

    Good chance the matriarch doe and her little one make it to the next spring.  Not so good for the doe and her to little ones and the button buck.  Quite possibly not good for the two bucks because of their lost energy from rutting.

    There's nothing "overstated" about the above.  That's not even taking disease, predation, vehicle accidents, overbrowsing, and semi-domesticating into consideration.  You can't say for sure deer are not dying either.  Remember, "save the doe" -- one deer can equal three.  This should be important considering there are no deer.  Just because you haven't found any dead, doesn't confirm there isn't any.  Ever come upon a guy shot deer?  They stuff themselves up under logs, brush, anything they can to hide themselves.  Just because you haven't seen a coyote or bear or fisher (), doesn't mean they aren't preying off the animals you're feeding.

    Likewise, I haven't even taken into consideration the fact that corn can be hard to digest.  While starting to feed early may alleviate some digestive problems, it doesn't mean it's going to alleviate all.   So S-10, don't tell me feeding deer doesn't "hurt" them.  I disagree.

    Bings,

    I'm not going to type again what I did on the other thread.  I think you should do some reading, talk to biologists.  Hell, get on google.com and type in "feeding deer"  -- see what you get and where you get it from.  The internet can bring out bad sources.  Set aside some time because you'll likely have some reading to do.  See the states that have made it illegal to feed.  I'm not refering to baiting either. 

    You don't even have to type in "Is feeding deer bad?"

    The fact is, feeding deer corn does not benefit them more than it'll hurt them.  The only benefit is YOUR viewing or YOUR pictures.  Pretty selfish if you ask me.  If you think deer benefit from feeding them corn I want you to tell me how.  Forget everything stated or anything we've talked about and tell me how.

    I'm not telling you what to do, just presenting a proven fact stated by others qualified to state it.
    post edited by SilverKype - 2008/01/17 16:32:22
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 13:14:41 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: SilverKype

    I'm not telling you what to do, just presenting a proven fact stated by others qualified to state it.




    I'd like to comment on this before anyone lights it up.

    There seems to be an issue on this site (and others as well, but not as much as here), that nobody in the GC, or biologists, or "so called" whatever don't know what they are talking about. 

    I'd like for you to come do my job for a day, see how far you get creating an entire data warehouse.  A few of you may have the skill but not many.  Then, I'll come do yours, and see how far I get.  Assuming the equivilent skill but on a different subject, real good chance I'm not going to make it far.

    The fact is, whether you like it or not, there's a reason they are qualified to do their job.  It may not parallel YOUR personal interests but it does parallel what is right for ALL, not just YOU.
    post edited by SilverKype - 2008/01/17 14:58:21
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    Noplacelikehome
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 16:11:10 (permalink)
    Carpet Bagger, I agree with you. I did plant apple trees, mow trails,put out salt blocks and lime these same clover trails every spring. But I really want to help these deer in the winter time. I feel I OWE them something(I kill 2 or 3 deer a year) Corn seems to be the only food that I can provide for them. They do seem to love the green briar patches on the land I hunt.
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    bingsbaits
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 18:00:34 (permalink)
    Agricultural crops constitute from 40 to more than 50 percent of the whitetail's year-round diet in some areas. In northeast Kansas, corn is the single most-used plant in all seasons except summer, with 29 percent overall use, while in Iowa corn comprised 40 percent of the deer's diet. Although whitetails are commonly observed in alfalfa fields, alfalfa is a relatively minor food source. Native foods that make up part of the deer's diet include woody vegetation, particularly buckbrush and rose, with lesser amounts of dogwood, chokecherry, plum, red cedar, pine, and a host of other species. Forbs, particularly sunflowers, are important, while grasses and sedges are used only briefly in spring and fall. Although whitetails can obviously subsist entirely on native foods, they apparently have a preference for farm crops, which constitute the biggest management problem in agricultural states - balancing deer numbers so as to satisfy both hunter demand and landowner tolerance .
    First hit I got when I typed in whitetail deer food..
    post edited by bingsbaits - 2008/01/17 18:02:01

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    S-10
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 18:12:13 (permalink)
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    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 18:14:36 (permalink)
    ok, we're talking about feeding deer correct?  Not whitetail food.  Guess I'll have to type it in.
     
    The deer you plan to feed over the winter may need some "tough love" instead.
    Just as people have learned that sometimes well-meant help facilitates unhealthy behavior, so winter feeding of deer is unhealthy -- or even deadly -- for deer, says Jim Knight, Montana State University Extension wildlife specialist.
    Feeding seems like a generous answer to starving wildlife at first, says Knight. However, most people don't know that some common feeds can harm deer or change their behavior to the point that it leads to their destruction.
    "Many people think that feeding deer in a hard winter can do nothing but help," says Knight. "That's not always the case." Knight describes the following scene he witnessed during the winter of 1996-97.
    A tearful woman was talking to a central Montana wildlife biologist.
    "We can’t afford any more food, and the poor things are dying," the woman complained. "Every day more and more come to the feeders, but we’re already spending $100 a month. Isn’t there something you can do?"
    "I’m sorry, ma’am," the wildlife biologist said, "but you’re drawing deer from all over the area. They aren’t used to a diet of hay and corn, so I’m afraid you’re going to have more of this," he said, pointing to two frozen carcasses of yearling deer only feet from hay-filled feeders.
    This scene is repeated many times each winter in Montana, says Knight.
    Feeding deer hay or corn can kill them, because they cannot always digest it. Deer digestion involves protozoa and bacteria that help break down food. Different micro-organisms help digest different types of vegetation. If a deer has been feeding on aspen or willows, it has built up the micro-organisms that digest only this kind of vegetation. If this same deer suddenly fills its stomach with corn or hay, it may not have enough of the corn- and hay-digesting micro-organisms in its stomach to digest the food. A deer can starve to death with a full stomach.
    In addition, deer can become fixated on a food source, says Knight. Deer will stay near a sure food source, even an inadequate one, rather than seek more sufficient food in other areas.
    Once food is discovered, deer concentrate around a feeder rather than scattering through the available winter range. Often, they remain in an artificial feeding area getting only half the food they need rather than fighting the snow to use natural browse. They quickly deplete any close-by forage and can stay in a feeder area until they starve to death. This is why spring searches often reveal concentrations of dead deer within the immediate vicinity of feed areas.
    So if you still decide to feed deer, you must feed every day, says Knight. If you become ill and can no longer feed, the deer that depend on you for food will suffer. Any interruption, whether due to depleted funds, a vacation, a snow storm or a midwinter move to a warmer climate, will eliminate part or all of a deer’s diet. Once a feeding program starts, it must continue until spring when delicate new growth lures deer to resume foraging away from your feeder.
    And, another problem is that deer won't "divvy up" feed equally.
    Deer need 3.5 pounds of good browse daily. If you aren't feeding this much for each one, some will be undernourished. Even if you provide this much food per deer per day on average, some deer will eat five pounds leaving other deer with too little. So some deer will starve.
    In addition, artificial feeding makes deer abnormally competitive.
    Competition between deer in natural situations usually is limited, because natural food sources are scattered. In artificial feeding situations, deer often become combative, striking one another with hooves to assure themselves a share of the food. Young deer, the ones that need the food most, are kept away by larger or stronger deer.
    Artificial feeding also can spread disease.
    When deer are abnormally close to one another, contagious diseases or parasites are more easily spread. Wildlife pathologists now suspect that artificially-fed deer in high populations may develop disorders that lead to peculiar habits, such as eating hair from themselves and other deer.
    Early last spring, Knight says he had the unpleasant experience of seeing a yearling buck infested with black, wort-like growths. These growths, which are caused by a contagious virus, had completely covered the deer’s face. The blinded animal was running into fences, trees and other obstructions and had severely cut itself before being put out of its misery by a wildlife biologist. This deer was killed within a half mile of the woman’s feed station mentioned earlier.
    The consequences of artificial feeding mentioned up to now are direct and easily observed. There are, however, other less obvious implications.
    Many deer visiting feed stations are carrying fawns. If the food being provided is not as abundant as natural browse, not only the doe, but also her fawns may be undernourished.
    Artificial feeding may force deer to ignore their instincts. Deer have evolved to fear man. This has helped them survive. Artificial feeding forces them to ignore the presence of people. In some cases, this could be their downfall.
    Finally, artificial feeding would have to increase infinitely to feed all the animals that would come.
    If you found the perfect diet that provided all necessary nutrients, and if you were able to feed the equivalent of 3.5 pounds per deer of good browse daily, and if you were able to get the feed divided equally among the animals, and if you were able to minimize the spread of disease due to the animals being closer together than they would be naturally, even then your problems would not be at an end.
    Next year, the perfectly fed and healthy animals' offspring would come with their mothers. Each year, you would need to provide more feed for the new generations.
    In truth, you may hurt more deer than you help if you feed them.
    There is a way to help, however.
    "Create and maintain a natural habitat and combine that with proper hunting. It's the only way to minimize starvation and work for both deer health and humane treatment," says Knight. "If deer populations aren't controlled by man or other predators, you will have starvation."
     
     
    -----------------------------
     
     
    Feeding Deer Harms their Health
    CONCORD, N.H. -- Good Samaritans who think they're helping deer by putting out feed in the winter may actually be endangering the health of the herd, says New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wildlife biologist Kent Gustafson.
    "People mean well, but don't realize the damage they're doing. Feeding wild white-tailed deer may actually reduce the animals' ability to survive a New England winter, making them more vulnerable to starvation, predation, disease and vehicle collisions," says Gustafson, who is the Deer Project Leader for Fish and Game. "Despite people's good intentions, supplemental feeding creates an artificial situation in which the deer, the habitat and the public may suffer."

    The commercial availability of so-called "deer feed" does NOT make it OK to feed the deer, according to Gustafson. The Fish and Game Department urges landowners to NOT provide supplemental feed to deer, because the practice actually can cause far more harm than good.
    "Many people think of feeding deer like feeding the birds," remarks Gustafson, "But there are some critical differences that make feeding deer unhealthy for the deer population, for plants near the feed site and for passing motorists."

    Problems start because feed sites congregate deer into unnaturally high densities. These high deer densities can spread diseases among deer and attract predators, increasing the risk of death by coyotes or domestic dogs. It can cause aggression in the herd, wasting deer's vital energy reserves and leading to injury or death; as well as using up critical fat reserves as deer expend energy traveling to and from the feed site. Feeding can deny access to food for subordinate deer and fawns, and can encourage over-browsing of local vegetation and ornamental plants. It also increases the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions.
    One of the most serious drawbacks to feeding deer is that feed sites lure them away from their natural wintering areas. This attraction can trap deer in inferior winter habitat and increase the chance of malnutrition and predation. If deer continually go to feed sites instead of natural deer wintering areas, then young deer may never learn to find their traditional winter habitat. Also, landowners may not see the value of managing for dense softwood cover, typical natural winter habitat for deer.
    Habitat is critical, because in winter conditions, deer conserve their energy, getting as much as 40 percent of their daily energy during winter from their fat tissue. That's why in winter, COVER -- not food -- is the key to deer survival. Deer retreat to softwood cover, or "deer yards," to avoid deep snow, high winds and extreme cold. In these areas, deer move around very little, using a network of trails that disperses them and reduces competition for natural food.
    "Quality natural habitat provides the best insurance for deer survival in winter," says Gustafson. "If you care about deer, leave them alone -- let them be wild, and find natural foods and appropriate winter shelter on their own. The bottom line is, please don't feed the deer, and please discourage your neighbors, friends and relatives from engaging in this harmful activity."
    Click here to download "More Harm than Good," a brochure explaining the negative impact of deer feeding (PDF file, 956 KB). Copies are also available at N.H. Fish and Game or UNH Cooperative Extension offices or from Extension's Forestry Information Center at 1-800-444-8978.
     
     
    Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Will Be Illegal in Virginia
    Richmond, VA — Effective September 1, a regulation making it illegal to feed deer will go into effect statewide. The prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January.
    This regulation does NOT restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences.
    Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; disease transmission, including tuberculosis as well as many deer diseases; and human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and inappropriate semi-taming of wildlife.
    In addition, feeding deer has many law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia, but deer feeding has not been. Distinguishing between who is feeding deer and who is hunting over bait has often caused law enforcement problems for the Department in the past.
    Deer Feeding Has Been Booming Along with Population
    Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon noted that over the past twenty years the practice of feeding deer has expanded across the eastern United States among both deer hunters and the non-hunting general public. The most common reason for feeding deer is to improve their nutrition and to supplement the habitat's ability to support more deer; in other words, to increase the carrying capacity for deer.
    According to Knox, many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia. In Virginia, deer die-offs due to winter starvation have been almost nonexistent and according to Lafon, "We do not need more deer in Virginia. In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state."
    Nelson Lafon is in the process of completing a revision of the Department's Deer Management Plan. Based on his research, it appears that the citizens of the Commonwealth would like to see deer populations reduced over most of the state. Lafon noted that Virginia's deer herds could be described as overabundant from a human tolerance perspective and stated that feeding deer only makes this overabundance problem worse.
    Is Your Bird Feeder Attracting Deer?
    Supplemental feeding artificially concentrates deer on the landscape, leading to over-browsed vegetation, especially in and around feeding sites. Over-browsing destroys habitat needed by other species, including songbirds.
    It is not unheard of for deer to take advantage of bird feeders and begin to eat spilled birdseed. Individuals who inadvertently are feeding deer through their bird feeders may be requested by VDGIF game wardens to temporarily remove feeders until the deer disperse.
    Deer Are Wild Animals

    Deer are wildlife and belong to all the citizens of the Commonwealth. In their natural state, deer are wild animals that have a fear of humans because we have preyed upon deer for thousands of years. However, when deer are fed by people, they lose this fear, becoming less wild and often semi-domesticated.
    Fed deer are often emboldened to seek human foods, leading them into conflict with people. Despite their gentle appearance, they can become lethally dangerous during mating season capable of goring and slashing with their sharp hooves and antlers. There are numerous cases across the country of individuals injured by deer they treated as pets.
    People often treat the deer they feed as if they own them, even going so far as to name individual deer. Not only does this association diminish the "wildness" of "wildlife", it also leads to a mistaken notion regarding ownership of wildlife. Deer and other wildlife are owned by citizens of the Commonwealth and are managed by the Department as a public resource.
    Deer Feeding Congregates Animals, Increasing the Spread of Disease
    The increase in deer feeding that has taken place in Virginia over the past decade now represents one of Virginia's biggest wildlife disease risk factors. According to VDGIF Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jonathan Sleeman, deer feeding sets the stage for maintaining and facilitating the spread of disease.
    According to Dr. Sleeman, diseases are a big issue in deer management today across the United States. Feeding deer invariably leads to the prolonged crowding of animals in a small area, resulting in more direct animal to animal contact and contamination of feeding sites. Deer feeding has been implicated as a major risk factor and contributor in the three most important deer diseases in North America today. These include tuberculosis, brucellosis, and chronic wasting disease (CWD). Fortunately, none of these diseases have been found in deer in Virginia, although CWD is present in West Virginia, less than 10 miles from Frederick County, Virginia.
    Please Don't Feed Deer
    It is clear that the negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. If you are not feeding deer, you should not start. If you are currently feeding deer, you should now stop. Feeding deer is now against the law between September 1 and January 6, the first Saturday in January. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.
    It is the mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating, and related outdoor recreation; and to promote safety for persons and property in connection with these outdoor activities.
     
     
    -------------------------------------
     
     
    As soon as the first few inches of snow falls, some New Hampshire landowners begin thinking about putting out food for the deer.
    Don’t! You’ll do more harm than good, both to the deer and to their habitat. Research and experience has shown that the negative effects of winter feeding outweigh any benefit deer might get from being fed.
    Two factors primarily determine deer survival during winter: the availability of high-quality food in the fall, and softwood (e.g., hemlock, spruce, fir) cover during winter.
    Deer must store body fat for the winter. The amount of body fat a deer has when it enters the winter directly determines if it will survive until spring. Deer accumulate body fat by increasing the amount of food they eat in September and October, when high-quality foods, such as acorns and beech nuts, are abundant. By November, most deer have accumulated all the fat they will need to survive the winter.

    During September and October feeding, fat accumulation in adult deer results in a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in body weight. Fawns, on the other hand, accumulate only about half as much fat, because they use most of the food they eat for growing muscles and bones.
    Beginning in November, deer in the Northeast voluntarily begin eating less. They continue to reduce the amount of food they eat each day until around late February, when they are eating about 50 percent less food per day than they did in September. Throughout the winter, deer compensate for their reduced food intake by relying on their stored fat for energy. An adult deer may get as much as 40 percent of its daily nutrition during winter from fat reserves.
    However, to maintain this level of stored fat use, deer must conserve their energy by reducing their activity (e.g., by traveling less) and by spending most of their time in softwood cover, where it’s warmer and the snow isn’t as deep. These energy-conserving behaviors are especially important for fawns because of their lower fat reserves.
    Although deer can eat to reduce the amount of fat they burn, natural foods only slow the rate of fat loss; they don’t stop it. This is where some people begin saying, “That’s why people need to put out grain for the deer!”
    But research has discovered that even deer feeding on nothing but grain lose weight during the winter. Even captive deer that have access to as much high-quality food as they want still reduce the amount of food they eat beginning in November, and they continue to lose body fat through February.
    That’s because deer have evolved a survival strategy that involves eating as much food as they can in autumn, to put on as much fat as possible before winter. Once winter comes, instinct tells deer to eat less, move around less, and seek the protection of winter cover.
    Research has also shown that large, dominant adult deer fill their bellies first at feeding sites, which means that smaller and weaker individuals, including the vulnerable fawns, will have wasted valuable energy traveling to the feeding site, where they may get little feed. Over time, feeding sites attract more and more deer competing for the same food supplies, which can lead to over-browsing and degradation of the natural habitat around a feeding site, as well as wreaking havoc on homeowners’ ornamental plantings.
    Wildlife biologists also worry that deer feeding might help spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which affects deer and elk and is always fatal. To date, CWD has been found in 14 states, including New York, although it hasn’t been found in New Hampshire.
    Although biologists don’t know exactly how this disease spreads, they believe its transmission requires close contact between animals. When humans put out food for deer, they create a situation where an unnaturally high number of deer become concentrated in a small area.
    In fact, some states have banned winter feeding of deer to help stop the spread of CWD. Feeding deer because you just like to watch them is a selfish reason for placing our deer resource at so much risk.
     
    So, what can you do if you want to help deer during the winter? You can work on your property and with your neighbors to create and maintain quality deer habitat. This includes working in stands of oak and beech to increase the amount of nuts available in autumn, working in softwood stands to maintain and create dense winter cover, and working in hardwood stands to increase the amount of woody browse available to deer. Together, landowners, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts can ensure there will be enough habitat to sustain many generations of deer in New Hampshire.
     
     
     
    Disease Considerations
    There is overwhelming evidence that baiting and feeding deer was a major factor in the bovine tuberculosis (TB) outbreak in Michigan deer and cattle (6). It was for this reason that Michigan reacted by restricting baiting and feeding in the endemic area. However it has been repeatedly argued that Wisconsin’s 10 gallon limit on baiting would not be enough feed to concentrate deer and thus spread diseases. However, a Michigan State University (MSU) study completed in 2001 refutes this claim (7). The study was conducted to observe deer interaction at fall baiting sites to determine how bovine TB could spread between deer. The researchers observed deer feeding at various types of baiting sites for 2 years. These sites consisted of bait placed in piles up to several tons in size, various quantities of bait spread in lines, and several types of mechanical feeders. They found that the number of deer face-to-face contacts that could spread bovine TB were higher at a 5 gallon pile of corn than any other baiting method. They also noted that up to 35 different deer were observed feeding at a single 5 gallon bait pile during a 1 hour observation period. It should also be noted that a USDA study determined that the bacteria causing bovine TB can remain infectious up to 16 weeks on frozen feed (8). Thus the conclusion from this extensive study is that any amount of bait can be expected to sustain and spread a disease like bovine TB, but that smaller quantities tended to be worse.
    The MSU study also included radio collaring 163 deer to study movement and seasonal dispersal patterns when baited. These deer migrated an average of 15 miles with some deer migrating over 53 miles. It seems that even when baited deer will migrate substantial distances. During the 2-year study it was also found that one of the radio-collared deer had actually died from bovine TB.
    It has been suggested that supplemental food plots are nothing more than "bait on a stick." Researchers have shown that food plots do not present the disease potential of bait piles. Food plots are dispersed over a much larger area than bait piles, and once they are consumed there is no more. The principle problem cited with baiting sites is they can be replenished over and over in the same location that increases the potential for contaminating residual foods and underlying soil. The Michigan DNR even recommended food plots in the TB area (9).
    Other diseases that can be spread by baiting include Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD, or so-called Mad Deer Disease) and foot-and-mouth disease. Until recently CWD was a found only in wild deer and elk in northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming where it was believed to have originated. CWD has now been documented in wild deer populations in Nebraska and Saskatchewan. Both these new outbreaks resulted from the importation of game farm deer and elk with the disease. So far CWD has been found in game farm animals in at least 5 other states (10). This disease is particularly troubling because it is not caused by a living organism. Rather it is caused by a aberrant protein called a prion, which seems recalcitrant to normal sterilization procedures. That’s why Mad Cow disease is not destroyed by normal cooking procedures.
    CWD is spread by close contact, similar to bovine TB and is always fatal. It is suspected that feeding was a major contributor for the CWD outbreak in the western states. It is because of this reason that Wyoming recently banned baiting, and that Saskatchewan immediately banned baiting when it was determined that CWD had been passed into the wild deer population. It seems that CWD would be especially devastating in the Midwest due to much higher deer populations. Also whitetail deer seem to be particularly susceptible because of their social behavior. Because of high deer densities in the Midwest it is thought that baiting would not be required to spread the disease. But baiting would certainly allow to disease to spread more rapidly and thus confound eradication efforts.
    Other important diseases that affect deer are brucellosis, anthrax, brainworm, blackleg, hemmorhagic disease. Of these brucellosis is a concern for the dairy industry, and brainworm is lethal to elk and moose and may severely limit their reintroduction into Wisconsin.
    While Wisconsin deer at present are relatively disease free, it is often cited that baiting need not be restricted until a disease is confirmed. This rationalization believes that the state can react quickly enough to eliminate a disease in a wild deer population. However, unless extremely lucky by the time a detection is confirmed any disease in a wild population would be well established. In fact once established Bovine TB may be impossible to eradicate in a wild population (11). As can be seen with the CWD outbreak in Colorado and Saskatchewan, eradication efforts usually involve attempting to kill every deer in the affected area (which may involve hundreds or thousands of square miles and thousands of animals). The logistics of killing and disposal of this many animals are staggering, and the financial impacts would be devastating. The foot-and-mouth outbreak in England is a case in point. Since wildlife do not respect political boundaries this issue extends beyond state lines.
    Despite what many people think, deer do not primarily eat corn and other grains. Their digestive system is poorly adapted for high carbohydrate foods (like corn) commonly used as bait. A condition called lactic acidosis, or "grain overload" is often observed as a result of feeding excessive grains (5). At a minimum this causes the deer discomfort. In extreme cases it can cause death (deer have been found dead in Wisconsin from this condition). Another potential problem with grain, especially corn is the toxic chemical aflatoxin, which is produced by a common grain mold. There are limits on the amount of aflatoxin permitted in livestock feed. However, there are no such limits for so-called "deer corn" and this can be a convenient market for what was an unsaleable product. A study in Texas found that 40% of the deer corn sold had illegal levels, and 20% had levels that would be immediately fatal to birds such as turkeys, and fatal to deer if consumed over long periods of time
    Habitat Damage
    Deer are selective browsers, meaning they eat a variety of plants. As countless studies have pointed out, when fed supplemental feed, deer never eat just the feed; they also eat their natural foods (15). And the native plants that they do eat tend to be the less common, more nutritious species. When concentrated due to baiting this results in excessive browsing in areas which causes habitat damage and can lead to simplification of the vegetation. This further erodes the carrying capacity of the habitat. And as the highly respected Wisconsin DNR deer biologist Keith McCaffery says "Some might want to argue that the supplemental food buffers deer impacts on natural vegetation, but one does not protect a garden from deer by placing a corn pile in it!"
    As anyone who ever observed a bait pile knows deer are not the only beneficiaries. Baiting also attracts other animals such as raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rabbits and wild turkeys. This can also result in the concentration of predators, which in turn results in greater mortality for all prey species. A Texas study found that the impact of deer feeders significantly decreased the survivorship of nearby turkey nests (16). The indirect result of baiting also increases the nutrition for predators which also increases their populations. This further skews the predator-prey balance.
    #16
    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 18:19:45 (permalink)
    #17
    bingsbaits
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 18:31:43 (permalink)
    I don't want to even hear the argument that there are too many deer for the habitat.
    Now feeding deer is causing there to be too many deer..Surely not here..

    "There is a pleasure in Angling that no one knows but the Angler himself". WB
     
     


    #18
    S-10
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 21:45:31 (permalink)
    Damm--I never realized---Quick--- someone call Texas and tell them to pull all their tripod feeders and box feeders and quit laying that feed on the roads all year long before all those 140/160 bucks die of disease from being so close together.  I'am glad that the PGC is so concerned  about the hazzards of deer feeding/baiting  that for the first time in Pennsylvanias history (I think) they now ALLOW feeding/baiting in parts of the state.
    #19
    DanesDad
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/17 22:53:33 (permalink)
    I've fed deer for years both where I live now and where I used to live. I feed corn or sometimes a mix of corn and Purina Antlermax (a feed)  My observations:
     
    -  Some deer do dominate others.  Where this is excessive, I trim a few branches off of trees and shrubs and put peanut butter on them.  The dominant deer eat at the feeder, and the smaller more passive ones eat at the branches.
    - I've only ever had one real big buck at a feeder.  99% of the time it is a dominant doe and her offspring of the year.  Sometimes a small buck or group of 2 or 3 bucks will come, but mostly does and little ones.
    - I've never found a dead deer within 1/4 mile of my feeders.
    -I feed from about xmas until green up.  I provide a pint to a quart of food each night.  On average, I get 2-3 deer a night, but I've had as many as ten.
    - Once green up starts, the deer totally stop coming to the feeder.
    - I've found beds here and there, but I dont believe that my feeding concentrates a bunch of deer in my area.
    - I backtracked from my feeder this year and some tracks came from over a half mile away.
    - I dont own any property, the feeders have been in my yard and deer come from surrounding woodlots.
    - Sometimes, when the deer come to my feeder, they'll also browse schrubs in the yard, especially yews and other things that stay green all year round.
    - the deer love peanut butter and will eat any I put within reach (I also feed birds)
    - Squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, and possums also come to the feeder.
    - the deer never really get tame.  They are always skittish and the only time they tolerate my presence in the yard is when it's brutally cold.  They'll hang back right at the woodline and and come up as soon as I go back in the house.  They certainly wouldn't stand around if I came out with a gun to shoot one.
    - I dont feed anywhere enough to sustain even one deer.  I feel that they stop by my feeder while they are active, eat what I put out and resume feeding out in the woods.
    - I live in an area that borders between suburban and rural.  There is no overbrowsing here.  There are too many food sources available. 
    - While corn probably doesn't have much nutritional value, I think it provides the animals with energy, much like candy for humans.  I believe that this energy is beneficial for the animal in keeping warm and being active enough to find other foods.  I'm sure that, just like humans, deer dont always eat what is best for them, but I find the notion that they would starve with a belly full of corn a bit ridiculous (at least around here, where food is varied and plentiful).
    #20
    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 06:24:38 (permalink)
    I find the notion that they would starve with a belly full of corn a bit ridiculous
     
    Dane -- I really don't find it ridicious at all.
     
    Some more from "so called"
     
    http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/lib/pgc/deer/pdf/winter_feeding.pdf
     
    S-10 -- do we know what happens at those Texas ranches behind the scenes??  I mean, it's ALL about the money when talking trophy hunting.  I think we can agree that money makes people do selfish things.  I have no doubt that their everyday decisions have much more to do with their wallets than the actual health of deer.   Would you consider injecting deer to grow huge antlers healthy?  I think if you and I got to see everything that goes on and the results (not just big bucks), there's a chance we may not like it too much.  I would be willing to bet they have dying deer that normally shouldn't have.  Setting up a stand at a four way intersection thing is not for me.  For myself, when hunting becomes a one dimensional (antlers) retreat, it loses its value.  Sounds like a beaver operation..
     
    #21
    bingsbaits
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 07:10:30 (permalink)
    One thing I must admit I didn't know that corn has such a low nutritional value..Dane says it better than I can. I don't feel me 2 feeders here in this situation are hurting the deer herd..The experts say food plots are best..Oh but wait Alt was an expert..now what.
     As far as those Texas ranches go. Go talk to the boys at Tecamate and ask them about the quality of their herd and how the deer are dying from no food. Texas has some of the best managed deer herds in the country...
     

    "There is a pleasure in Angling that no one knows but the Angler himself". WB
     
     


    #22
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 07:25:27 (permalink)
    Silver-- I don't agree with game farms or baiting at all and don't consider it hunting. That being said, those bucks are five or six years old and have been fed that way all their lives.  Also, while the PGC tells us it's harmful they continue to license the hunting preserves and game farms in the state. Some of them advertise hundreds of dpsm and do the majority of their feeding from box feeders or tripods. While I would agree that it could be harmful to have dozens of deer in close contact just as it sometimes is when a student spreads a cold in a classroom I believe it is way overblown and there are enough examples like Texas or PA. game farms to support that premise.
    #23
    Noplacelikehome
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 07:38:09 (permalink)
    Is peanut butter okay for the deer?
    #24
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 07:45:35 (permalink)
    Peanut butter has 21% protein if that's the yardstick you want to use. Be sure you put it out where only the deer can get it. The racoons love it also. Trust me-- it can get quite expensive.
    #25
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 07:51:58 (permalink)
    Noplace--Peanut butter would not be a good winter deer food--I would have to agree that very much of it would screw up a deers stomach in the winter. I put it out in the summer for all the critters on occasion. The coon really pig out on it if they can get to it.
    #26
    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 08:01:42 (permalink)
    Like I said fellas, you don't know what goes on behind the scenes at Tecamate and the like ..  you think these game farms don't have problems?  Right.  I'd agree that they have the best quality herd in the country if they weren't feeding, too bad the only reason they have great whitetail herds is because of strict management and feeding, they got the land and money to spread it out too and the time to monitor it making sure too many deer aren't in one place, making sure everything is perfect.  Hell, they say that on TV.  It's all about the dollar with that and you can't deny it.  If going to such gives you a woody, then good for you, but your 180" 12 pt. doesn't mean a thing..  this is where I would say "fake hunting."  Mr. Beaver sure paints a pretty picture too.  We know the roots of that evil.   Game farm feeding is not compariable to feeding wild deer and you know that.  Everything is controlled on a game farm, not to mention it's done full time, by full time individuals.  Some guy throwing out corn because he likes to watch them are separate occurances from garm farms.  A cold in a classroom does nothing more than make kids sick.  A deer with CWD or EHD is not so lucky.  The spread of deer ticks isn't a pleasant thought either.  For what??  Deer aren't benefiting... so for what??  What's overblown??  Feedin wild deer?  There's no benefit and if it only affects one or two negatively, you still lost more than you would have..
     
    That's what it comes down to, we can argue all day about the negatives of feedings, but what about the positives  ..  there aren't any.
     
    btw .. I believe it has been proven that freezes will not destroy all EHD.
     
    #27
    SilverKype
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 08:09:14 (permalink)
    Noplace..

    You owe them??

    I think you owe it to a wild animal to allow them to be wild.  My opinion.

    I got a fellow co-worker here that is a cheap****  He won't even pay the garbage man for pick up.  His answer is to burn everything but  scraps, and he throws that out in the yard.  He's got two shelties. 

    ...and he seriously wonders why he "sees bear all the time"

    One of these days, a predator is going to get ahold of one of those dogs..

    Maybe then, he'll get a garbage man.
    post edited by SilverKype - 2008/01/18 09:32:45
    #28
    Dream Catcher
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 08:28:44 (permalink)
    Another PGC myth ,
                               They plant field corn on the game lands to benefit all wildlife "must not be so bad if they supplement corn themselves". They just don't want us doing it because the deer will funnel to private land and take away from the deadlands(game lands) experience. You trophy guys will believe anything these jags tell you .... Gulable warming , space doesn't end , I did not have sexual relations with that woman , I didn't inhale .... you know they are a non profit organization ; just like the growing greener plan so they must be legit!!!! I'll continue to believe what I see and know in my heart to be true. I've never seen any evidence of deaths from supplemental feeding only bad shot placement from hunters , deer VS vehicles .
    #29
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    RE: Feeding over the winter months 2008/01/18 11:56:16 (permalink)
    By now most folks realize corn has only about 5-7% crude protein and protein is important in a deers diet. The premise is deer should be left alone in the winter to find more nourshing natural food. How many are aware that ACORNS including white oak acorns contain 4-6% crude protein? Now what do we do?
    #30
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