▶️ Birdseed kills deer in Bend backyard; prompts reminder to not feed wild animals in the city


What do you do if you discover a dead deer in your yard?

A Bend family faced that dilemma Wednesday and passed on some important lessons they learned.

Billye Friberg and her daughter Victoria thought their dog, Emma, was chasing a rabbit in their backyard in midtown Bend.

In fact, Emma had discovered a dead deer.

“There was no evidence of trauma. I called fish and wildlife to ask what to do,” said Victoria Chase. “They said because it was on private property, you need to take care of getting rid of it. If it were on the road, the county would take care of it.”

They called an animal removal service.

“The other option is for them to bury it on their property if they are within the guidelines,” said Lee Ashcraft, owner of Lee’s Animal Removal Service. “Another option is to dispose of it at one of the land fills but they still have to have permission to transport it. The other option would be to call a service like mine.”

Seeing wildlife is one of many highlights of the Central Oregon lifestyle.

But feeding wildlife, deer and elk, in particular, is a horrible idea and practice.

“Every year we do necropsies on deer that have died in peoples’ yards that have stomachs full of corn and grain and alfalfa,” said Andrew Walch, a wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. “So, they are dying with full stomachs because it’s not the right food.”

Walch said deer cannot digest food people put out for them.

It causes acid from indigestion to leech into their blood and their stomachs to bloat which restricts their lungs to the point they can’t breathe.

“When you dump out a bunch of apples or alfalfa or grain pellets, corn, those things, their guts cannot handle that high carbohydrate load all at once. It will kill them in a pretty horrible way in a couple of days. It’s called ruminaciddoses,”
Walch said.

Deer that die with full stomachs are regularly hauled away from neighborhoods throughout Bend, killed by well-intentioned people who think they are helping by putting out food, including bird seed.

“It’s not a well-known thing that birdseed can kill the deer and that we shouldn’t feed these animals,” Chase said. “They are wild. I just thought people would want to know this.”

Victoria relocated her bird feeders into a fenced area where deer cannot reach them.

The problem of feeding deer is so bad that the City of Bend passed a resolution earlier this year asking residents not to feed wildlife, other than birds.

If the problem persists, the city may need to take a regulatory approach.

So, do yourself, your neighbors, and the deer a favor: Enjoy watching them but please don’t feed them.


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