Well maybe not entirely for feeding deer, but it seems to have been a major factor. I’m not sure if it’s more ludicrous or tragic, probably the latter, but according to this story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a long-standing feud between Todd G. Stevens of New Brighton, Minn., and neighbor Neal C. Zumberge ended this week with Stevens shot dead. A key catalyst was apparently Stevens’ practice of feeding deer in his backyard.
According to the report, Zumberge, who has battled Lyme disease and had confronted his neighbor about the deer feeding for months, ambushed Stevens and his girlfriend Jennifer Cleven on their front porch, allegedly peppering them with pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun, while Zumberge’s wife, Paula, reportedly shouted: “Shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting.” Zumberge did just that, says Cleven. “He kept on shooting after [Todd] was down,” she told the Tribune.
Zumberge is now charged with second-degree murder in Stevens’ death and attempted second-degree murder for the non-fatal injuries suffered by Cleven.
The feud had apparently been ongoing for some 15 years, and a year ago Clevens obtained a restraining order against Zumberge that was still in effect. Neighbors said they were well aware of the feud over feeding deer. Zumberge had reportedly mailed a letter to area residents telling how deer populations had escalated because of the feeding, and the increase in whitetail numbers were bumping up the tick population, attracting coyotes (which he warned might carry off small children) and might lead to other deer-loving predators, like wolves and mountain lions.
Sadly, it seems that the most dangerous threat associated with Stevens’ deer-feeding program was Zumberge himself.