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Sportsmen set up deer-feeding stations

Group aims to avert problems in Willard area

SHARE Sportsmen set up deer-feeding stations

WILLARD, Weber County — A group of sportsmen has set up about 20 feeding stations in the foothills from U.S. 91 to the Weber-Box Elder county line to feed hungry deer and elk.

They say the animals otherwise might head into town, causing damage to orchards and getting hit by cars.

"Some nights they're just waiting for you to leave the station so they can come in," Jarvis Facer said.

The sportsmen use ATVs to haul bags of corn and bales of hay to the sites.

Troy Justensen, chairman of the board of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, estimates that it has cost about $2,000 for the feed used since the program was started in December.

All of that money comes from fund-raisers held by SFW. But some question whether it's money well spent.

"It might be effective if it's really cold and there's lots of snow," said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "Depending on where the feed site is, it could draw deer to the road."

Cornicelli also said it could make things worse for the deer. He said deer depend on bacteria in the digestive tract to digest food. When they switch to one kind of food too quickly, they won't be able to digest it and can die with full stomachs.

Facer said these deer are healthy and safer.

He said there have been fewer deer going into town and they're still eating natural vegetation during the day, maintaining their normal diets and moving down in the evening to supplement.

Richard Schulze, a conservation officer with the DWR, said he's picking up fewer dead deer off the side of the road in the past few weeks.

"I think there's some value in them at times and in some locations," he said.

Justensen said the program began because sportsmen were afraid of losing large numbers of deer as in the winter of 1992-93.

"It's taken us a lot to get these herds back again," he said.