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"We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 10 October 2020  

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Aaron Berscheid

  Please don’t feed wildlife
  You could be killing them and putting your own family and pets at risk.
  By Aaron Berscheid
  District Wildlife Manager, CPW

   Every year, especially around this time, I get a lot of calls about people feeding deer. It is illegal in Colorado to feed big game animals, including deer, for good reasons. Feeding big game, especially deer, can cause them agonizing deaths. 
   
   And it can be dangerous for people and pets. 
   
   Most of the food that humans put out for deer is not what the deer need. Even worse, it can be dangerous to the deer’s health. High protein feeds like corn and birdseed can cause digestion issues like bloat and acidosis. Colorado Parks and Wildlife inevitably responds to multiple cases each year where a deer has died as a direct cause of being fed by humans. 
   
   Feeding deer also congregates deer, which can cause other issues. Many diseases are spread by direct contact between the deer, and this is more likely to happen if multiple deer visit the same food source. By feeding deer, humans draw unusually large numbers of deer to the same spot and help the spread of diseases within the deer population. 
   
   Congregations of deer also attract predators. By humans feeding deer in residential areas or in their neighborhoods, it attracts the predators that rely on deer as food. It is self-evident that this is not a good idea for the predators or humans.
   
   Do you really want a mountain lion, for example, which looks to deer for 70 percent of their diet, to prowl your backyard where you have a salt block out to attract deer?
   
   The worst consequence of feeding deer, however, is allowing deer to feel comfortable around humans. 
   
   Deer naturally fear humans and this is very important for the deer’s safety, as well as human safety. Deer that have lost their fear of humans are more likely to get hit by a vehicle, eaten by predators, or worse, attack humans. 
   
   In the spring, female deer are dropping and protecting their fawns. In the fall, the male deer are fighting each other to win over the affection of the females. If deer lose their fear of humans, the females will be more likely to act aggressively or attack humans that they feel are a threat to their fawns. In the fall, when bucks do not fear humans, they have been known to attack, injure and even kill humans.
   
   Yes, feeding deer is illegal, but the danger to humans and deer is much more than just the threat of a fine. 
   
   In the coming months, I’ll share more of those stories as I write about wildlife issues in our community: Got a question, problem or column idea, please email me at aaron.berscheid@state.co.us or call me at 719-227-5231. 
   
   I might even answer your question in a future installment of “Wildlife Matters.”
  
 
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