Greg Sheehan, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stated, “For over 100 years, our sportsmen have always been the first to come help our wildlife in need. In the case of the decision to feed deer in northern Utah this year, we once again had sportsmen pour in with equipment, funding, and countless volunteer time to save our iconic deer herd.” Sheehan went on to say, “We appreciate the rapid response by the Mule Deer Foundation to bring critical funds and volunteer resources to the table so that we can provide assistance to these deer before their body conditions decline beyond recoverable levels.”
Portions of almost every western state are facing higher than normal snowfall impacting high elevations as well as critical winter range. Many states are reporting increased road mortality and movement into residential or agricultural areas as deer search for areas with available forage. Utah DWR began feeding deer near Garden City on January 13 and there are now emergency feeding operations in portions of four counties. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has also begun emergency feeding operations in the southern portion of the state, and MDF has supported the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department’s efforts to bait deer away from busy roads near the Gunnison River to reduce collisions. MDF is in close contact with several other states to offer help for any efforts they implement this season.
“MDF knows that state fish and wildlife agencies are working through the individual circumstances within their state and we are happy to support their efforts to manage deer during these difficult conditions,” commented Miles Moretti, President/CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “It’s critical to note, however, that these emergency feeding operations by the state are a special circumstance – agencies feed a specialized pelleted food that is designed for the unique digestive systems of mule deer. While we know the public wants to step in and help, it is essential that individuals not feed deer on their own.”
MDF has started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help states that are conducting winter feeding operations. To support the effort, go to https://www.gofundme.com/winter-feeding-of-mule-deer or donate at www.muledeer.org and indicate that your donation is for the emergency winter feeding program. 100 percent of the funds raised will be dedicated to purchasing the special pelleted feed used by state agencies during these feeding operations.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.