Don't feed the deer: It could kill them

Don't feed the deer: It could kill them »Play Video
Mule deer. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

EUGENE, Ore. - Don't feed the deer: It could kill them.

That's the warning from state wildlife biologists as a deadly disease rips through southern Oregon's blacktail deer herds.

So far, there have been no documented deer deaths in Lane County from the virus afflicting blacktail herds around Medford, said Marianne Brooks, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Once a viral disease takes hold, however, it can spread rapidly through a herd.

Property owners who put out food or water for deer actually put the animals in greater danger for the spread of disease, Brooks side.

The feed brings the animals closer together in one place, allowing the disease to move from one animal to another more readily than it would in the wild.

Brooks compared the situation to a classroom full of children: if a few kids come to school with a cold or flu, the bug rapidly spreads.

Unlike a classroom full of kids, once a virus gets loose in the deer population, there's nothing ODFW can do to treat or control the spread of the disease.