Please Don’t Feed The Deer And Elk!

January 11, 2015

Colorado wildlife elkIt might be tempting to put out food for hungry looking deer and elk when the snow lies deep in the winter, but Colorado biologists say the best way to help hungry animals is to let them find their next meal on their own.
"People may mean well, but those who feed deer do more harm than good," said Scott Murdoch, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer in Conifer.
A 1992 law makes it illegal to feed big game animals, including deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and bears. Feeding wildlife is bad for the animals and dangerous for people, for a number of different reasons.
In the wild, deer and elk naturally spread out when grazing or browsing for food. Artificial feeding encourages them to crowd together making it easier to spread disease throughout a herd. Also, artificial concentrations of deer in neighborhoods results in increased vehicle collisions and conflicts with dogs harassing deer.
Deer are the primary prey of mountain lions and large gatherings of deer can attract lions into neighborhoods, putting people, livestock and pets at risk. The mountain lions are also then put in danger because it may become necessary to kill them if they become a threat to human health and safety.
“Every winter, officer’s deal with numerous pets and livestock that get killed by mountain lions because homeowners are feeding deer; deer do just fine without the public’s help,” says Murdoch.
Wild animals have complex digestive systems and their natural diet is difficult to duplicate. Food from human sources can also lead to malnutrition, a disruption in natural migration patterns and death.
To report incidents of feeding or other illegal wildlife activity contact a local Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards may be offered is the information leads to a citation.
For more information, please visit:
Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, more than 300 state wildlife areas, all of Colorado's wildlife, and a variety of outdoor recreation. For more information, go to


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