deer in snow

From Sometime early next week, men and women will fan out across the woods of northern Minnesota, many on snowmobiles, and begin laying out feed for wild whitetail deer.

A million pounds of feed, give or take. As much as $170,000 can buy….

“We’re at 130 volunteers and climbing fast,” Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said Wednesday….

Whose idea to feed the deer? Hunters, who put pressure on the state to do something because this brutal winter is surely killing some deer in the northern zones. Feeding from now through the spring green up will help the animals survive. The money for the project will come from a fund established from proceeds of hunting license sales.

The Minnesota DNR opposes the idea, arguing that feeding doesn’t have a significant effect on the overall deer population, plus it can congregate deer and encourage the spread of disease. Every biologist I’ve ever talked to says it’s a bad idea for people to feed deer anywhere and regardless of conditions.

But in this case the hunters are spot on. This winter is undoubtedly killing deer and weakening others in northern states where deer populations are already down due to weather, predators, etc. Minnesota’s 2013 firearms harvest was down about 7% statewide, more in the northern zones. This two-month feeding can only help!

Estimates say the effort, which will last until the snow melts and the first green vegetation appears, will feed from 12,000 to 16,000 deer.