By Kevin Holsonback, Wildlife Biologist
Supplemental feeding is the practice of making foods other than the natural vegetation and agricultural plantings available for wildlife. It is a practice that is becoming progressively popular to today’s hunting community. Shelled corn, whole soybeans, or some type of pelleted feed are some of the most common foods used for this purpose. Providing supplemental feed for deer is becoming more common. This is done mostly with the intent to benefit the deer herd, but does it?
Supplemental feeding deer also attracts nontarget animals such as raccoons, opossums, wild turkeys and other birds and small mammals. Those species can be more susceptible to diseases than deer. High levels of aflatoxin, a byproduct of certain molds associated with small grains, have been found in bags of “deer corn” in several states. This can be toxic to wildlife, especially the smaller species.
It is becoming clear that supplemental feeding can do more harm than good. Let’s keep the deer healthy and wild so that many generations of hunters and wildlife watchers can enjoy them.
For more information concerning managing your deer herd contact your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries District Office.