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Mule deer

Supplemental winter feeding of deer

What seems like a good idea, can often do more harm than good.

Winter feeding

EACH WINTER, people contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) expressing concern for deer. Often these people ask about supplemental winter feeding to help carry the animals through extended periods of heavy snowfall. Many people and organizations volunteer to help with winter feeding efforts.

While the DWR welcomes all the help it can get, supplemental deer feeding is usually not a good idea. Although it sounds like an act of kindness and may even help some animals get through the cold months, it can create major problems. Each link below provides additional information.

  • Disease can spread when deer congregate
  • The wrong food at the wrong time can kill deer
  • Concentrated numbers of deer can damage rangelands
  • Easy food can cause long-term effects on behavior
  • Concentrated deer attract predators
  • Landowner issues and disagreements
  • It's expensive to feed enough deer to make a difference
  • Public safety is important
  • Social issues always play a part

Is supplemental winter feeding ever warranted?

Yes, there are sometimes specific emergency situations when supplemental feeding is beneficial. For example, deer herds in critical wintering areas that are caught in unusually deep and long-lasting snow might benefit from winter feeding. — Read more

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