To the News Enterprise:
It’s 9:30 pm, it’s February, it’s dark, and you’re driving on State Route 28N in Minerva. You’re awake and alert, and are heading home after attending a meeting or doing some much-needed shopping. All of a sudden, out of the darkness that is just outside the area illuminated by your headlights, a deer wanders/leaps/runs directly into your path of travel. You don’t swerve (there’s no time) and you crash directly into the deer. The deer is hurting and the front of your vehicle is wrecked. It is not a good scene.
This scenario has happened way too many times in Minerva (and many other Adirondack communities) over the years. I have nailed three deer over the past 12 years. The issue is not the overall number of deer in the area – the issue is that too many residents feed these critters in their front, side, or back yards. The deer become accustomed to the food and the traffic whizzing by, and then trouble happens. Please, be aware that feeding deer in your yards is illegal in New York State.
According to Part 189 of the regulations that implement the State’s Environmental Conservation Law, no person shall feed white-tailed deer or wild moose at any time in New York State except under certain circumstances: 1) under a license or permit issued by the NYS DEC, for bona fide scientific research; 2) by planting, cultivating or harvesting crops directly associated with bona fide agricultural practices; 3) by distribution of food materials for livestock directly associated with bona fide agricultural practices; 4) by distribution of food material for legally possessed captive white-tailed deer or wild moose; and 5) by cutting of trees or brush.
Why are deer- and moose-feeding regulations necessary? There are good reasons. The threat of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease to NYS deer and moose populations may be at the top of the list. This disease is fatal and is transmitted most likely from animal to animal at central feeding sites, especially where deer are close together. The nature of the disease has required quick and extraordinary actions to address the threat posed by this disease.
Feeding deer in your yard is not a good idea. With deer concentrated at feeding sites, the surrounding natural habitat can also be seriously overbrowsed. Natural browse plants can be damaged so that they produce smaller quantities of browse for many years, or can die out completely. The result is a habitat that supports fewer deer, and a population that becomes dependent on artificial feeding. These deer seem to become less wary of people, pets, and road traffic. As a result, they are more likely to regularly visit feeding stations, and often in small herds. They also tend to amble across roadways in groups, making them more likely to get struck by passing vehicles.
Indeed, deer are beautiful wild creatures of the woods. The key word here: wild. Please, well-meaning folks, do not feed the deer.