Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Deer feeding attracts predators

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 4/25/19

LAKE VERMILION— Feeding deer on Lake Vermilion has an upside, at least for the timber wolves. Isle of Pines resident Lee Peterson reports that wolves have killed at least five whitetails on the …

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Deer feeding attracts predators

Posted

LAKE VERMILION— Feeding deer on Lake Vermilion has an upside, at least for the timber wolves. Isle of Pines resident Lee Peterson reports that wolves have killed at least five whitetails on the island this winter, including two deer that the wolves took down right in his own yard.

The deer have been easy prey for the wolves as a result of deer feeding by residents on the island (Peterson is not among those feeding deer).

Feeding tends to prompt deer to move along established routes at regular times during the day, making them easy pickings for wolves. Peterson reports that virtually every dead deer he’s seen on the island this winter had fresh corn in their belly.

While folks who feed deer may believe it benefits the deer, as the situation on Isle of Pines suggests, the real story is more complex.

While the wolf predation certainly trimmed the Isle of Pines deer herd this winter, it’s a boon for what Peterson dubbed “the cleanup crew.” That includes everything from pine martens and mink, to ravens, to bald eagles. The carcasses have also been attracting the first-arriving turkey vultures, who have reappeared in the area along with the milder temperatures.

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Deplorable

I’m glad the wolves are thinning the residential herds. Our neighbor feeds the deer daily. He’s a deer whisperer. They surround him like cattle at feeding time, virtually eating out of his hand. We can’t let our dogs out, as there are always a dozen tame deer in our yard. Unless the winter is extremely sever, the deer do not need supplemental feeding.

Thursday, April 25
Lee Peterson

I've never seen a deer population around here like there is now. It's unnatural and it's unhealthy for the environment in the long run. The wolves can't eat the deer fast enough to control these herds. Meanwhile, the deer are over browsing on important young growth around here, which will lead to a changed forest in the future. That's sad. Lately I've seen a couple of skinny deer that don't look very healthy. With this unnatural, wall to wall deer herd, just think how susceptible this area is to chronic wasting disease? Mother nature will take care of this human induced deer overpopulation, one way or another.

The other day I walked the road from the bridge to the Big Bay end of 34 acre Isle of Pines and counted 26 deer by the time I saw Big Bay. Everywhere in the township, there is a maze of deer. The place is getting to resemble a cattle feedlot. I welcome the wolves, have at it.

Tuesday, April 30