• Whether to feed deer corn


    A lot of people out here feed corn to the deer. Is that safe for the deer?

    Naturalist's Response

    While baiting deer in Ohio is typically legal during state hunting seasons (check Ohio Department of Natural Resources regulations for restrictions), generally feeding deer throughout the year is not recommended. You should also check local ordinances, as cities in Lake and Cuyahoga counties have banned deer feeding in efforts to combat high urban deer populations.

    Depending on the amount of feed put out, it may provide a false sense of food supply in that particular population. This can then have a larger effect on the surrounding habitat with increased deer-related impacts, such as greater browse and increased chance of transmitting disease.

    Deer are efficient browsers. They will eat a large variety of plant species depending on the time of year, from herbaceous to woody vegetation. Corn is not natural part of a deer’s diet. I would recommend providing habitat with vegetation that deer will naturally feed on such as: pokeweed, greenbriers, dogwoods, wild plum, wild grape, sumac, fleabane, partridge pea, wild lettuce, asters, blackberry and black raspberry.

    -Land Stewart Joel Firem

    Though I am not an expert on deer biology, I would like to add that I have read many articles stating that feeding deer corn in the winter is not a good idea. These articles state that the deer’s digestive system is not able to properly process the high starch content and can lead to problems for the deer.

    -Naturalist Denise Wolfe

    Also, I know that Pennsylvania was considering banning deer feeding.  Here is an excerpt from PA’s Game Commission on the issue:

    “While feeding deer may enhance wildlife viewing, decades of research has clearly shown that supplemental feeding leads to increased disease risk, long-term habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans and alteration of other deer behavioral patterns and, ultimately, the demise of the value of deer and deer-related recreation.”

    For more detailed information, click here for their nice flyer all about the downfalls feeding deer. Thank you for your question!

    -Park Biologist Paul Pira