New England woods, much like other parts of the world, are filled with deer.

Deer often bring a smile to my face. I think since I am unable to get close to them (as they frequently dart away any time they notice a human), I am curious about them.

They are truly beautiful animals. But they are not to be played with.

I do not mean play like you play with a god. I actually mean that deer are not to be interfered with. Specifically, they are not to be fed by humans (despite how badly I want to summon them like Snow White).

Maine and New Hampshire Wildlife are issuing a warning to people who consider feeding these creatures. It is extremely dangerous.

"New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Deer Project Leader Becky Fuda offered the following caution to anyone thinking about feeding deer," according to a New Hampshire Fish and Game article.

Although people may feel badly for deer and want to help, the Fish and Game Department would like to remind the public to never feed deer as it may actually harm them...Deer have a highly insulative winter coat to keep them warm, they store large amounts of body fat to use as energy reserves, they will voluntarily reduce both their food intake and daily activity to conserve energy, and most importantly, they migrate to a specialized habitat known as a deer yard, a forested shelter that allows them to better cope with winter conditions.

Deer do not need our help. Their bodies have adapted to live with reduced food, live in colder climates, etc.

"Helping them" may actually hurt them.

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Feeding deer the wrong food can lead to:

  • Death
  • Increased likelihood of vehicle collisions
  • Over-browsing of local vegetation and ornamental plants
  • Enhanced risk of predation
  • Increased risk of disease transmission

These warnings to not feed deer come from real-life tales.

In 2015, twelve deer were found dead around a feed site in South Hampton after being given food they could not digest.

“Sudden increases in snow depth can cause people to become concerned for deer and result in the sudden introduction of supplemental food for deer,” said Fuda to NH Wildlife. “However, because deer are ruminants, they process food differently than other animals.”

Although most people who feed deer are well-intentioned, the best thing you can do for them is admire them from afar.

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