WENATCHEE - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding residents around the state not feed deer, elk, and other wildlife.
WDFW officials say that when temperatures plummet and heavy snowfall occurs, that more people want to feed wild animals to help them survive.
However, the feeding of wild species can actually do them more harm than good according to the WDFW.
“Deer, elk and other animals have developed adaptations that allow them to survive harsh winter conditions without human intervention,” says an agency statement. “The best way to help wild animals survive a severe winter is to promote year-round quality habitat. If animals go into the winter in good condition, most are able to survive persistent deep snow, ice and cold temperatures.”
Biologists with WDFW say the digestive systems of free-range animals like deer and elk are not able to efficiently process many varieties of processed feeds which contain things like fruit and grain. They also add that the consumption of such products can lead to a lethal metabolic disease known as rumen acidosis.
“Feeding (wildlife) these alternative foods is similar to feeding your children nothing but candy bars,” said the WDFW’s statement.
In addition to abstaining from any attempts at feeding, agency biologists also caution not to disturb wild animals during the winter since this causes them stress and interrupts their process of natural energy consumption.