Tuesday, September 01, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: Seasonal Deer Feeding Ban Begins

Starting today, it is illegal to feed deer in Virginia, according to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The annual prohibition, part of a 2006 regulation, is part of an effort to keep Virginia's deer population in check. The no-feeding rule will remain in place through the first Saturday in January, according to the department.

The regulation does not restrict the planting of crops, wildlife food plots or backyard and schoolyard habitats. Rather, it is aimed at the artificial feeding of deer, which can unnaturally increase the deer population.

Deer will take advantage of birdfeeders and will eat spilled seed. Individuals who inadvertently feed deer through their birdfeeders may be asked to temporarily take their feeders down, according to a department release.

An overabundance of deer can lead to damage to natural habitats and inappropriate "taming" of wildlife. It also can lead to increased human-deer conflicts, including vehicle collisions and disease transmission, such as tuberculosis and other deer ailments.

Many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but deer die-offs due to starvation are practically nonexistent in Virginia, said Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon, VDGIF Deer Project coordinators, in a statement.

"We do not need more deer in Virginia," Lafon said. "In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state."

Harrisonburg has used police snipers to thin the city's deer herd. Recently, city officials said they are considering allowing archery on a limited basis to control the deer population.

Based on a 2007 survey, most Virginians would like to see deer populations decrease through much of the state, the release said.

Source: Rocktown Weekly

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