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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Deer Feeding

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot recently about the Pennsylvania Game Commissions proposal to ask for a ban on the feeding of deer. As usual, anything that has to do with the PGC and deer usually results in lots of controversy and plenty of outspoken opinions — some for and some against. Understand that

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot recently about the Pennsylvania Game Commissions proposal to ask for a ban on the feeding of deer. As usual, anything that has to do with the PGC and deer usually results in lots of controversy and plenty of outspoken opinions — some for and some against. Understand that the “feeding” of deer is not now illegal providing it falls within commission regulations. As I understand it, now all feeding materials such as salt licks and other assorted food sources must be removed, and feeding stopped 30 days prior to the opening of any deer seasons.

Apparently, some folks who enjoy feeding their “pets” are upset with the possible new regulation; feeding is their way of interacting with and observing wildlife. I have even read where some people enjoy feeding ” their” deer while holding the food source while the deer feeds. Some hunting camps, especially in the northern part of the state, place corn feeders out during the winter months since they feel it helps deer survive the winter months.

I too enjoy observing and interacting with wildlife and nature — that’s why I hunt, fish and hike in the woods and along our great streams and lakes. I have no interest in the feeding of deer, and in fact, I can sense some serious problems with such a situation, especially in light of the spreading CWD problem. CWD is a disease that has no cure at present and is spread among deer through body secretions. Salt licks and other feeders congregate deer unnaturally and in greater numbers aiding the potential increase of the deadly disease.

CWD isn’t the only problem with artificial feeding; congregating deer around salt licks and feeders habituates wildlife to humans — that can be dangerous for both the deer and humans. It’s probably best that deer remain wild and leery of humans. Often times the feeding may occur near other peoples’ residences, and they may not appreciate those same deer helping themselves to their garden, shrubs, and favorite flowers. Bear in mind too that deer that get accustomed to the presence of humans are also more susceptible during the various hunting seasons.

Another problem I see in this feeding scenario is that some people seem to think that the deer become “their” pets because they frequently come to their property for the handout. You may own the property, but you do not own the wildlife — they are not the pets of the property owner and giving them names and feeding them on a regular does not provide ownership. Simply put wildlife is a publicly owned resource.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that a lot of the deer feeding is not necessarily done by avid hunters but rather by those who just like seeing the deer in the backyard. With more people moving out into the countryside, this no doubt increases the possibility of deer/people relationships and increased feeding opportunities. Should such a ban on feeding ever become a reality, I suspect it would be a very difficult ban to enforce. It will be interesting to see where all of this goes. In the meantime, I’m going to start preparing to view some deer but preferably from a treestand and hopefully within good bow range.

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