February 13, 2008
BuckTracker: To Feed or Not to Feed
By Scott Bestul
It's been some remarkable winter across much of the nation's snowbelt. In fact, things are so rough in Colorado that the state is now in the midst of a major feeding program for deer and elk impacted by record snows and cold.
George Ruther, a diehard hunter from Vail (he was featured in a fall installment of Buck Tracker with a big mulie he shot), sent me this link to the CO Division of Wildlife website, where citizens can donate to alleviate costs of this feeding program.
More than one person has pointed out the irony of this program to me. Here in Minnesota--no stranger to snow and cold--we frequently war over the practice of feeding. While feeding deer is immensely popular among citizens and some sportsman's groups in a severe winter, DNR officials typically discourage the practice, saying the massive expense and labor outlay actually saves very few critters.
Taking things a step further, broad feeding bans and restrictions have been applied across the Midwest, as wildlife managers tell us the practice can spread diseases like CWD and bovine tuberculosis.
So, what to do for those mountain mulies and elk? Send Colorado some money to help the critters through? Or recognize that sometimes Nature has ways of cleaning house that are difficult to accept ... but have been going on for longer than we've been around.