SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) is asking for donations to help feed mule deer in the Gunnison Basin of Colorado. Heavy deep snows and cold temperatures have created harsh winter conditions in Gunnison Basin, preventing mule deer from reaching their normal food sources and requiring the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) to begin feeding operations on Jan. 13. CDOW is conducting emergency feeding at over 60 sites. As of Jan. 24 it was reported that approximately 5,000 deer were on the feeding sites.
The feeding effort is targeted at mule deer and pronghorn because their natural food sources are completely covered with snow. Fortunately, the deep snows came late and deer went into the winter in good condition. Prolonged deep snows and cold temperatures can quickly deplete fat reserves. Deep snows also require mule deer to expend considerable energy when moving to cover and food sources.
CDOW personnel have been packing trails and roads into feeding areas with snow-cats and snowmobiles. Feeding is being conducted by CDOW personnel and volunteers. Deer are being fed a specific diet of wheat, other grains, dehydrated alfalfa and cottonseed meal in the form of a wafer so it will stay on top of the snow. Deer are being fed about three pounds of the feed per day.
The public is being asked not to feed deer around their homes or on their property. Feeding deer other types of food can actually do more harm than good. The public is asked not to approach deer, either, as this may cause them to expend considerable energy needed to survive the extreme conditions.
Colorado Gov. Ritter recently asked the Colorado legislature for spending authority for $1.75 million to fund an emergency winter feeding program in Gunnison Basin and other parts of Colorado if necessary. CDOW personnel are monitoring deer herds in northwest Colorado that have also experienced heavy snows. Biologists have indicated they are seeing localized areas of deep snow, but they have not experienced the prolonged extreme cold and heavy crusting conditions like the Gunnison Basin area.
MDF has set up a fund to assist with the purchase of feed. The specially formulated feed is supplied by Ranchway Feed Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo., at a cost of $8.00 per 50 lb. bag. CDOW is feeding approximately three pounds of feed per day per deer. One bag can feed approximately 17 deer. A $50.00 donation will feed between 15-18 deer for a week. Monetary donations can be sent to:
Mule Deer Foundation
Colorado Emergency Feeding Fund
404 East 4500 South, Suite B-10
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
OR Call 1-888-375-3337