It's been an unusually harsh winter in the woods this year, particularly with all the snow. I know in the past when we have heavy snow years we have deer and elk dying of starvation. Is there any plans to feed deer and elk to get them through the rest of the winter? 


While it has been a harsh winter in Eastern Oregon on mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife doesn't have any current plans to conduct any emergency feeding for wildlife, says Michelle Dennehy, the ODFW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

Emergency feeding of big game is generally accepted as ineffective and at times can be detrimental, Dennehy says.

For instance, feeding programs only reach a small portion of the targeted deer and elk and can permanently divert deer and elk off traditional winter range, according to the ODFW. Also, feeding creates unusual densities of animals, which can result in increased disease transmission, predation and poaching, according to the ODFW.

The agency instead focuses its efforts on protecting and enhancing habitat enhancement projects that improve winter range as well as connecting habitats so things like Highway 97 doesn't act like a barrier to migrating deer and elk, according to Dennehy.

However, the agency has a long-standing winter feeding program at the Elkhorn, Wenaha, Jewell and White River wildlife areas, where agricultural fed is laid out specifically to keep deer and elk off nearby farms and ranches and is done until the spring green brings natural food back into play, according top the ODFW.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to To see a collection of columns, go to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.