Supplemental Feeding to Begin Despite DNR Reluctance

Airplanes, warehouses and several thousand dollars of food for deer, but a big question is “Will it even matter or is this just a feel-good attempt?”

Supplemental feeding of Minnesota’s struggling northern deer herd will begin soon. After a Deer in Snow NPSphotoprotracted fight against the grudgingly reluctant Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to use money specifically allocated — from hunters’ license fees, no less — in a fund the agency manages, now volunteers are set to distribute tons of food to the deer.

One of the most severe winters in decades has covered up many natural food sources for the deer. They’re struggling, in some cases even dying, and it’s one of the ugly parts of nature. But hunters and others are ready.

“We’re at 130 volunteers and climbing fast,” Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last Wednesday. The MDHA is running the operation, with cooperation from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in one area, the newspaper reported

“We had a guy walk into our office (in Grand Rapids) yesterday and said, ‘I’ve got a warehouse you can use,’ ” Johnson told the paper. “I need to figure out if he has a forklift. … One member said, ‘I’ve got my airplane ready. We can do a flyover whenever you want.’ ”

The feeding fund was established in the late 1990s after several severe winters. Fifty cents from each hunting license is put into the fund, which has not been tapped for supplemental food until now. Money in the fund also is used to study and fight deer diseases.

Only $170,000 of the fund will be used. Minnesota DNR officials are not involved with the feeding other than to distribute the money and approve the food to be provided.

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