I'm turning over a new leaf. No longer will I feed the deer. These past few years I've put out corn. The birds eat it, but it has also helped moved the deer away from my garden. No more! Scott Shalaway, whose articles appear in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel has led me away from that self-serving practice. Mr. Shalaway's article in this past Sunday's paper urged me and other feeders to stop. I followed the link he provided in the newspaper to the Pennsylvania Game Commission's web page and a paper written about the danger of feeding deer.Please Don't Feed the Deer (Once at the page click on the Adobe article with this name.) This article states all the obvious reasons not to feed such as allowing the deer to become unafraid of humans. I wasn't too worried about this because I put out corn for such a short amount of time during the winter. Other reasons include the spread of disease that comes from bringing wildlife in from far away and the stress that comes from deer hierarchy that keeps younger/smaller/weaker animals from eating. I have fought this issue by hand-placing pieces of corn cobs around the field so that each animal can eat while not being too close to the others. It seems to work. I usually put out just enough for the deer that visit my yard - no extra.
Now I have learned that the food, itself, may kill the deer through extreme indigestion. The new food is very hard on the deer's system. I suppose that deer that living near a corn field regularly eat corn, so it isn't a problem for them.
There are other issues as well, such as the fact that my feeding may cause deer to use up energy reserves just traveling to my yard to feed. I am convinced and hope that I have caused no deer detriment.
From now on, I will use a good fence, soap shavings and pepper spray to keep the deer away from valuable plants trying to grow in my yard. I'll leave the deer alon to fend for themselves and hope for the best.