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PA Game Commission: Winter Feeding Killed Trophy Bull Elk

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January 24, 2014

PA Game Commission: Winter Feeding Killed Trophy Bull Elk

By Phil Bourjaily

A 6x7 bull elk was recently found dead in Byrnedale, Elk County, Pennsylvania. Game Commission officials believe well-intentioned people may have killed the elk by leaving out corn to help wildlife survive the winter. The elk died of rumen acidosis, a condition often brought on by a sudden change in diet from the normal grasses and plants to corn or other sources of carbohydrates that the animal cannot digest.

Winter feeding of wildlife has long been widespread in Pennsylvania although it is now illegal to feed elk and bears throughout the state.

"Most times, the best way to help wildlife make it through the winter is to step back and allow the animals' instincts to take over," Cal DuBrock of the Game Commission, told PennLive.com. "In a natural setting, most wildlife will change their behaviors to adapt to colder temperatures and scarcer food supplies. Supplemental feeding can alter that behavior and have detrimental, and sometimes fatal, effects."

The best way to help wintering wildlife, said DuBrock, is to improve winter habitat.

Comments (7)

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from Michael Jager wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

What a shame. People feed wild animals around my house and it seems to create more problems than anything else.

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from Mark-1 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Improve natural habitat??? Wow, what a radical notion!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Some do not realized the metabolism of wild animals slows drastically in the winter months and high energy food can be harmful. Likewise, many of the products sold to create big racks have the opposite effect.

When it comes to deer management, sales and profits will win out over common sense and science every day.

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from wittsec wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

It amazes me how many people really want to help wildlife and then do everything wrong. I would be willing to bet that the people who left the food for the animals are the same ones that think that hunters are so evil.

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from drawer.bli wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

That is so sad. I think people should know exactly what they're doing before messing with wildlife.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

What about standing corn, or other crops that a farmer didn't cut/harvest for whatever reason?Would that bother them? After all, if it's standing corn, I'd think deer have been at it for many months.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

I live 12 miles from Byrnedale. People in this area have been feeding the wildlife for decades. There are actual state funded groups up threw the Allegheny forest and Elk county that run dozens of feeders. We shed hunt them every year. I'm not saying it's right to feed them. But I almost wonder if they are adept to it. These animals have been eating out of feeders their entire lives and this is the first one I can remember dying from it. What a lot of people don't understand is that Pa's elk heard is very DOMESTICATED! They're not the elk you know in the west. These animals live in people's yards in the middle of town. there are some heards of 100+ that will live in people's back yards and just absolutely destroy everything! They are not majestic wild animals. They are state raised giant squirrels. There isn't a single house in Elk county that doesn't have a feeder of some sort. They keep the elk out of the shrubs and flower boxes by people's houses. A friend of mine had a heard of 30 in his back yard last year. One bull broke his kitchen window with it's antlers while it was trying to eat his wife's flowers in the box under the window. And this happens all the time. People in Benezette (just a few miles north) have it the worst. Thousands of tourist run threw their yards and properties taking pictures and leaving trash all over the place. The elk up there are completely domesticated and don't have a fear in the world.
I love PA's elk heard but I think PA went about it wrong. They intentionally placed them in touristy places instead of further north where they could actually be wild animals and this is what happens.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Mark-1 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Improve natural habitat??? Wow, what a radical notion!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

What about standing corn, or other crops that a farmer didn't cut/harvest for whatever reason?Would that bother them? After all, if it's standing corn, I'd think deer have been at it for many months.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

I live 12 miles from Byrnedale. People in this area have been feeding the wildlife for decades. There are actual state funded groups up threw the Allegheny forest and Elk county that run dozens of feeders. We shed hunt them every year. I'm not saying it's right to feed them. But I almost wonder if they are adept to it. These animals have been eating out of feeders their entire lives and this is the first one I can remember dying from it. What a lot of people don't understand is that Pa's elk heard is very DOMESTICATED! They're not the elk you know in the west. These animals live in people's yards in the middle of town. there are some heards of 100+ that will live in people's back yards and just absolutely destroy everything! They are not majestic wild animals. They are state raised giant squirrels. There isn't a single house in Elk county that doesn't have a feeder of some sort. They keep the elk out of the shrubs and flower boxes by people's houses. A friend of mine had a heard of 30 in his back yard last year. One bull broke his kitchen window with it's antlers while it was trying to eat his wife's flowers in the box under the window. And this happens all the time. People in Benezette (just a few miles north) have it the worst. Thousands of tourist run threw their yards and properties taking pictures and leaving trash all over the place. The elk up there are completely domesticated and don't have a fear in the world.
I love PA's elk heard but I think PA went about it wrong. They intentionally placed them in touristy places instead of further north where they could actually be wild animals and this is what happens.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Jager wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

What a shame. People feed wild animals around my house and it seems to create more problems than anything else.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Some do not realized the metabolism of wild animals slows drastically in the winter months and high energy food can be harmful. Likewise, many of the products sold to create big racks have the opposite effect.

When it comes to deer management, sales and profits will win out over common sense and science every day.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

It amazes me how many people really want to help wildlife and then do everything wrong. I would be willing to bet that the people who left the food for the animals are the same ones that think that hunters are so evil.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from drawer.bli wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

That is so sad. I think people should know exactly what they're doing before messing with wildlife.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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