Feeding deer will soon be illegal

Published 11:33 am Saturday, August 28, 2010

RICHMOND—Virginia’s annual statewide prohibition of feeding deer begins Sept. 1. According to state officials, the ban is intended to curb the negative consequences caused by people feeding deer.

The prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. Feeding deer during the prohibition period is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $500.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said deer feeding can cause deer populations to increase unnaturally and damage natural habitats, foster disease transmission, increase human-deer conflicts and diminish the wild nature of deer.

Officials said that the prohibition, which began in 2006, does not apply to people planting crops, wildlife food plots and backyard or schoolyard habitats.

Matt Knox, a project coordinator with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving. However, he said, that is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia.

“We do not need more deer in Virginia,” said project coordinator Nelson Lafon. “In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state.”

If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department’s Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.