Deer, oh dear!

Town Talk

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

The City of New Ulm has had a deer herd reduction program since October 1992, and the City Council passed a deer feeding ban on August 26, 2010.

What is the problem? To some residents, deer are a thing of beauty and grace, and providing feed for them is just being kind. So, what’s the harm? There is another group of city residents who plant gardens, shrubs, flowers and trees in their yards, and these plants face an uncertain future as night falls. The vegetables, flowers and shrubs are nibbled down, tree bark is scraped off by a buck’s antlers, and there are vehicle/deer collisions. For the most part, the deer don’t actually hurt people, as they typically destroy plants, trees and vehicles, which negatively impact’s residents financially.

But is feeding deer such a bad thing?

“Feeding deer creates issues,” said Joe Stangel, area wildlife supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “There’s no doubt about it.” (Mankato Free Press, Oh deer, does the city have a problem? by Trey Mewes) Is it because when deer browse, they usually do not touch another deer’s nose like they do when eating out of a feed container, which can transfer disease from one deer to the other deer (Chronic Wasting Disease)? Or is it because deer can carry wood ticks and deer ticks with Lyme’s disease (most common), and others such as Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Powassan virus into our yards, exposing both young children and adults to these diseases? Or is it because they are fed foods they are not used to eating, and can’t digest fast enough, and can actually kill them? The three answers to the above three questions are, yes, yes and yes.

When a resident feeds a deer, the deer become used to the free handouts, and they don’t eat their normal food sources. Once they find easy food, they will frequent those locations to eat daily. If the feeder is empty, they will switch to adjacent plants, flowers and trees in the neighborhood.

North Mankato recently passed a deer feeding ban. We need to control the deer population by not feeding them so they stay out of the city and by the City archery deer hunt to reduce the herd size and to reduce the risk of tick bourne disease and depredation of yard plantings. We need to stop feeding deer, for their health and ours. In New Ulm, feeding is defined as: intentionally placing or permitting to be placed on the ground, or within five feet of the ground surface, any grain, fodder, salt licks, fruit, vegetables, nuts, hay, or other edible materials which may reasonably be expected to result in deer feeding, unless such items are screened or protected in a manner that prevents deer from feeding on them. Use of deer attractants, such as soil and mineral supplements, while not corn or apples, is still considered feeding the deer.

Be kind, let the deer stay wild and eat what they are supposed to eat… outside the city.

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