Ask a Naturalist: Feeding deer

Is it okay to feed the deer in the park?

The rules of Phil Hardberger Park prohibit feeding deer or any other wild animals in the park. More importantly, feeding wild animals is not a good idea. It causes animals to lose their natural fear of humans, which can put the animal’s life and well-being in danger. Feeding the animals can also increase the carrying capacity of the land and artificially inflate population numbers. When the land cannot support these inflated numbers, and that artificial food source is no longer available, the local population of deer, for example, will suffer.

Finally, feeding the deer could put the health of park patrons in jeopardy. Animals, even deer, can carry diseases and parasites that can be harmful to humans. When animals lose their fear of humans, they can also be hazardous. Bucks, for example, have been known to charge people when they are too close, and does will aggressively protect their fawns.

Watching the deer and other wildlife is an important part of enjoying Phil Hardberger Park, but for their safety and yours, it is important to enjoy them from a distance.