Don’t feed the deer |

Don’t feed the deer

Officials hope feeding deer with help stem deaths

To help deer in Utah survive the last weeks of winter, officials at the Division of Wildlife Resources have some advice:

If you’re concerned about a group of deer, call the nearest DWR office. The department will send a conservation officer to investigate.

Keep dogs inside your yard. Keep dogs on a leash so they do not chase or harass deer.

Don’t disturb deer. Keep your distance from them.

Don’t feed the deer.

State wildlife biologists are watching deer herds closely this year and monitoring temperatures and snow depths.

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Officials began feeding deer in Summit County Feb. 1, a Division of Wildlife Resources press release states. Sportsmen are helping biologists feed pellets to the deer designed for their complex digestive systems.

"We’re watching deer across the state closely," DWR Wildlife Section Chief Craig McLaughlin said in the press release. "Parts of northern Utah are the only places where conditions have gotten severe enough that we feel deer should be fed."

The pellets were also fed to deer in Cache, Weber and Morgan counties, he added.

Most foods, including hay and apples, cannot be digested by deer, according to McLaughlin.

"If these items are added suddenly to a deer’s diet, and in large quantities, the deer can’t digest them properly," he said. "Deer that eat foods given to them by people can develop diarrhea."

But deer in Utah built up good reserves of body fat last summer and fall, he said.

"The deer went into winter in excellent shape," McLaughlin said in the press release.

Deer that go into winter in good condition can usually survive 30 to 60 days of severe weather, he explained.

"The best thing you can do to help the deer this winter is to keep your distance from them, and don’t feed them," McLaughlin said. "If everyone across Utah will do that, the state’s deer herds should get through the winter in good shape."

— Patrick Parkinson