WASHINGTON — Fairfax County police reminded everyone that it is illegal to feed deer from Sept. 1 through early January and also through deer hunting season.
Many people are thrilled when they see white-tailed deer. Nature lovers, in particular, enjoy the pastoral site of deer feeding in a field, backyard or by the side of the road. Some people believe they are helping deer when they put out food for them.
But Virginia wildlife biologists say feeding deer does more harm than good.
Deer feeding can unnaturally boost the deer population, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said. It can also damage natural habitats and increase the likelihood of disease transmission.
When people feed deer, it can increase dangerous encounters for the animals because it weakens their wild instincts and reduces their fear of humans. The result could mean more road crashes with deer.
Deer feeding should be reported to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Fairfax County police said. The agency’s Wildlife Crime Line can be reached at 1-800-237-5712. Reported violations can also be emailed to WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.
In Maryland, deer feeding is not illegal except in the case of baiting for deer hunting. But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources agreed that it is not a good idea to feed deer.