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Feeding Deer Can Lead To Unexptected Problems

Idaho Department of Fish and Game urges the public that feed deer near their homes, that their efforts may seem helpful, but may lead to unforeseen problems.

"Feeding deer often ends in unexpected conflict," says Mark Sands, IDFG Conservation Officer based in Orofino. "Feeding often starts with just a few animals, but their numbers can quickly become overwhelming. It can also attract animals that homeowners don't want around."

Currently, IDFG and local hound hunters are attempting to capture a mountain lion frequenting several residences near Orofino where deer and turkeys have been fed. However, with lack of snow, tracking the lion has made scent trailing for the hounds very difficult. It is hoped that if the lion can be captured, it can be tranquilized and released away from the area. Mountain lions are common in the forests of Idaho, and are sometimes attracted to city's confines were deer can find refuge and often congregate where fed.

In addition to attracting unwanted wildlife near homes, IDFG provides the following reasons why feeding wildlife is discouraged.

Wild animals being fed supplementally may congregate in unnaturally high numbers, increasing the chances of disease transmission. á Supplemental feeding encourages wildlife to become dependent on food sources that are not a part of their natural diets. á Wildlife may lose their fear of humans, leading to unfortunate encounters that result in injuries and sometimes death to the animal, pets and even humans.

Homeowners can discourage raccoons, skunks and other sometimes bothersome wildlife from foraging near their homes by properly disposing of their garbage, feeding pets indoors and securing livestock and poultry in pens at night.