(WHTM) – The White-tailed Deer is the Pennsylvania state animal and around 1.5 million of them live in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, residents have deer farms, hunt the deer, or maybe want to just feed the deer, but what can you feed a deer?
According to Pennsylvania Code § 137.33, “It is unlawful to, except for normal or accepted farming, habitat management practices, oil and gas drilling, mining, forest management activities or other legitimate commercial or industrial practices, intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals anywhere in this Commonwealth for the purpose of feeding bear or elk, or to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals that may cause bear or elk to congregate or habituate an area. If otherwise lawful feeding is attracting bear or elk, the Commission may provide written notice prohibiting the activity.”
“Under Pennsylvania law, it generally is unlawful to hunt in or around any area where artificial or natural bait, hay, grain, fruit, nut, salt, chemical, mineral or other food – including their residues – are used or have been used within the past 30 days as an enticement to lure game or wildlife,” states the game commission.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission also asks residents to not feed deer (or any wildlife) due to the fact that it risks the spread of disease.
The commission lists the following as diseases they worry about:
- Bovine tuberculosis
- Lactic acidosis
- Hair loss in deer
But the commission does have a suggestion if you actually want to feed deer, go native.
Choosing to feed deer can also result in harm if you do not follow the advisement of professionals.
Foods to avoid feeding to deer are bread, corn, or other foods with an excessive amount of starch.
Feeding a deer any of these items that contain starch can give the deer severe indigestion and may lead to death.
According to the University of New Hampshire, supplemental feeding/feeding sites can harm the deer due to the following; could attract predators, spread disease, cause aggression, reduce fat reserves, and over-browsing.
Choosing to feed deer anything that is a new food source would take them two to four weeks to establish the microorganisms necessary to gain any nutrients from that new food.
If you want to help the deer have a food source, try planting vegetation such as berries, seeds, nectar, and mast-producing trees or giving them oats, acorns, hay, or anything with high carbohydrates.
This is especially helpful to deer during the winter months as food is hard to come by.