CODY-Winter has arrived and with it comes subzero temperatures and a message from the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department—please do not feed the deer.
“Supplemental feeding of urban wildlife might seem like a good idea when the
temperatures plummet, but feeding deer in urban settings can be counterproductive to the overall
well-being of the herd,” said Brian Nesvik, Cody region wildlife supervisor.
In many towns throughout the Big Horn Basin, urban deer numbers have increased, due
in part to rural subdivisions encroaching upon winter ranges. “As our communities expand and
grow, so do our urban deer problems,” Nesvik said. Problems range from property damage such
as destroyed vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, and new shrub plantings, to pet injuries and deervehicle
collisions. “Supplemental feeding of urban deer in the winter exacerbates these
By providing opportunities for deer to obtain birdseed, grain, or other supplemental food
items, deer may become accustomed to humans and transportation corridors, which changes their
natural behavior. Feeding urban deer may also have the effect of increasing the deer population
in a community and that often creates conflict between neighbors, those who like to feed and
those who do not want deer around at all.
Nesvik cited another very important reason not to feed urban deer—mountain lions.
Public feeding of big game concentrates animals and attracts predatory wildlife into urban areas
resulting in human safety threats. These situations often times end with the Department being
forced to kill a lion that would not have been necessary in the absence of feeding. “Mountain
lions feed primarily on deer and elk and they are active year-round. Houses, garages, shrubbery,
and even parked vehicles provide hiding cover for mountain lions. If you intentionally feed deer
to purposefully keep them around your home, the chances of attracting mountain lions into your
neighborhood increases,” Nesvik said.
The Game and Fish has entered into discussions with several Wyoming communities that
are willing to discourage big game feeding through city ordinances or county regulations. “We
hope that more communities will consider feeding bans and we wish to thank those that already
have,” Nesvik said.
Nesvik added that every year, a few mountain lions do find their way into some
communities within the Big Horn Basin. “If this occurs, please notify your local game warden,
wildlife biologist, or Cody regional office,” Nesvik said.