Wednesday, January 09, 2008

OREGON NEWS: Winter Feeding Kills Deer

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Humans who feel sorry for the deer in the winter can do more harm by feeding them, say some wildlife experts.

Six deer found dead in the Klamath Falls area recently probably died because they were fed an improper diet by humans, officials say.

"Looking at some stomach contents, I'm seeing grain and alfalfa and things they're not supposed to be eating this time of year," said Liz Diver, who operates the nonprofit Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. "I've also run into people in the feed store buying grain for the deer, which can be fatal."

She said people believe they're helping deer by feeding them during the winter, she said.

"When you give them apples, carrots, alfalfa and grain, their gut cannot handle it," Diver said. "They get something very similar to colic."

Tom Collom, district wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, agreed.

He said deer have complex digestive tracts that depend on proper levels of vitamins, minerals and bacteria to digest food.

"If they are subjected to a quick change in diet it takes their system quite a while to change that bacteria makeup to be able to digest that food," Collom said. "It sets the stage where animals can starve to death on a full stomach."

A rapid change in diet actually inhibits the deer's ability to use the food they take in, he said.

Collom said feeding wildlife other than birds is against the law in the city of Klamath Falls under an ordinance approved in the 1990s.

Diver said she's trying to spread the word that feeding deer might end up killing them.

"Sometimes it's accidental," Diver said. "The deer are getting into people's hay barns where they've got it stashed for their horses.

"But you can also walk into feed stores and find people buying sacks of grain and things with the intent of feeding the deer because they feel sorry for them."


1 comment:

Drucilla said...

Anything we can do to help that wont harm them more?