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ND Game and Fish discourages feeding wildlife

Tough winter conditions in North Dakota have some citizens concerned about the stress on wildlife. Bill Haase, assistant wildlife division chief for North Dakota Game and Fish, says feeding wildlife can actually do more harm than good.

"Some of the consequences are drawing them in to a location that doesn't have good thermal cover. Another thing is that when you do get that extreme congregation of critters, you can have disease spread, that's a concern at times. Often times, what happens is that people feed, and then they stop in the middle of winter and those critters have been accustomed to getting that feed, those free handouts, and now that's gone away, and it leaves them in a pretty tough situation. Thats more detrimental than if they hadn't been fed in the first place."

Haase says wildlife rarely die from starvation and are more likely to die from the cold. He says its more helpful to animals to develop habitats that can provide thermal cover, but if farmers are still concerned, there is an alternative to feeding wildlife.

"Instead of having a pile of corn or something like that, where there could be an issue with grain overload, what we recommend instead, is taking a blade and blading some paths through a field so it opens it up. Of course, it's going to blow in, but if you can keep it clear, that will be the first to melt in the spring and then the critters can dig for themselves and usually scrounge enough for themselves to get by. So that's the best way, just try to create some open spots in the fields for the critters to forage."